Pig-footed bandicoot

Extinct in 1950ies
  • Pig-footed bandicoot
  • Pig-footed bandicoot

From the Australian deserts directly into our Lost Zoo, the rare Pig-footed bandicoot

Bandicoots are smaller, endemic marsupials of Australia. Their dentition is like the insect- and prey-eating families, whereas they possess certain peculiarities of the hind foot, which are typical for the herbivorous kangaroos and wallabies. The fourth toe is enlarged, and the second and third toes are bound together, so that they appear as one, only the top joints and claws are free.
Because of this anatomical characteristic all bandicoots were originally classified as one family. But the Pig-footed bandicoot (Chaeropus ecaudatus) is assigned today to its own, separate family, because its form is quite distinct from the other bandicoots, and also recent molecular evidence supports this opinion.

Stuffed Pig-footed bandicoot

Stuffed Pig-footed bandicoot @Paris NH Museum(Click to view larger image).

The Pig-footed bandicoot has a more specialized modification of its feet. Their fore-foot has only two functional toes (second and third toe) with hoof like nails, which are useful not for locomotion but for grooming. Their hind foot has only one, greatly enlarged fourth toe with a heavy claw shaped like a tiny horse's hoof.

Fore foot of Pig-footed bandicoot Rabbit-eared bandicoot which is close related to the Pig-footedbandicoot

Fore foot of Pig-footed bandicoot
(Click to view larger image).

Rabbit-eared bandicoot which is close related to the Pig-footed bandicoot
@Zoo Berlin
(Click to view larger image).

Their body is well adapted for digging, with the long muzzle and strong forelegs capable of easily moving soil and stones for efficient foraging. In common with many animals that live in open habitats, the Pig-footed bandicoot has long, rabbit-like ears, up to 6 cm in length, which probably help to detect predators over long distances. Besides Pig-footed bandicoots have the longest tail of all the bandicoots, being often over half the size of its head and body length.

Drawing of the Pig-footed bandicoot by ''Guide to Native mammals of Australia

Drawing of the Pig-footed bandicoot by "Guide to Native mammals of Australia"
(Click to view larger image).

They breed between May and June. The female has a pouch that opens to the rear and has eight nipples. But from the pouch’s size, compared with other marsupials of this size, it can be assumed that Pig-footed bandicoots does not carry more than four young per litter. But twins are obviously the norm.

Two of drawings of the Pig-footed bandicoot in 19century Two of drawings of the Pig-footed bandicoot in 19century

Two of drawings of the Pig-footed bandicoot in 19century①
(Click to view larger image).

Two of drawings of the Pig-footed bandicoot in 19century②
(Click to view larger image).

From eyewitness reports, analyses of gut contents, dentition and gut structure of museum specimens we know that the Pig-footed bandicoot was definitely not an insectivorous species like the shrews, but the most herbivorous species of all bandicoots, although it is reported that they feed also grasshoppers, ants and termites. However, leaves, roots and grass are their main food.
The Pig-footed bandicoot is a small, ground-dwelling marsupial of the arid and semi-arid plains of Australia. The distribution range of the species was later reduced to an inland desert region, where it was last recorded in the 1950s. Today, it is extinct.

Pig-footed bandicoot enclosure in LOST ZOO

Pig-footed bandicoot enclosure in LOST ZOO
(Click to view larger image).

The cause of their extinction remains uncertain. Because of habitat destruction it was already in a serious decline in the mid of the 19th century. Two specimens of Pig-footed bandicoot were obtained by local people in 1857 and only a handful of specimens were collected through the second part of the 19th century, mostly from northwestern Victoria, but also from arid country in South and Western Australia and the Northern Territory. In the beginning of the 20th century, the species had become extinct in Victoria and in parts of Western Australia. The last certain specimen was collected in 1901 and the last was seen in 1926. By 1945 the species vanished from South Australia too and was reported to be limited to a very few places in central Australia. Aborigines report that it survived as late as the 1950s in the Gibson Desert and the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. Since this time it is definitely extinct and it needed 60 years before one pair of this rare Australian species could be caught for our Lost Zoo in Western Australia.

Executive Curator
JURGEN LANGE

Pig-footed bandicoot

The Pig-footed bandicoot is a small, ground-dwelling Australian marsupial. It uses its sharp front claws to dug shallow, oval holes in which a nest created from twigs and grass was built. It spends the day resting in these nests or in hollow logs, under stones or on grassy banks and is active during the night.

Shoulder height: 20 cm

Head-Body length: 25-50 cm

Body weight: 200 g

Habitat: Arid and semi-arid plains of Australia

Extinction: Numbers of the Pig-footed bandicoot were determined to be declining by the mid-19th century, and it was last seen in 1926 and by some Aborigines in a very remote part of the country in the 1950ies.

Animal Exhibition
Pig-footed bandicoot