Numbat

© Wayne Lawler/AWC

Quick Facts

  • Scientific Name: Myrmecobius fasciatus
  • Family: Myrmecobiidae
  • Conservation Status: Endangered
  • Estimated population: From <1,000
Sony Dsc © Jennifer Cathcart/AWC

What is AWC doing?

AWC protects around 40 per cent of the entire Numbat population, and the only Numbat populations which are not in decline.

AWC’s Numbats are protected within large, feral predator-free fenced areas at Yookamurra (SA), Mt Gibson (WA) and Scotia (NSW) Wildlife Sanctuaries, and at Mallee Cliffs National Park (NSW).

The population at Scotia in western New South Wales is home to the largest population of Numbats anywhere.

Numbats were reintroduced to Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary in 2016, where the population is expected to grow to 240 individuals.

In coming years, AWC will attempt to re-establish a population at Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary, in central Australia.

Threats To Wildlife Awc Numbat © AWC

Threats to Species

The main threat to Numbats is predation by introduced predators – foxes and cats. This threat of predation is exacerbated by other factors including habitat loss and fragmentation from land clearing, which also makes Numbats more vulnerable to birds of prey such as Wedge-tailed Eagles and falcons.

Endangered W Lawler/AWC

Description

Numbats grow to about 25 centimetres long (not including the fluffy tail which adds a further 17 centimetres), and have a striking pattern rusty orange and grey-black fur, with transverse white bands across the rump. Numbats were historically found in a range of different habitats from mulga woodland and spinifex sandplains to eucalypt woodlands and forests. They shelter in large hollow logs, or construct a short (one to two metre) burrow with a small chamber at the end. Numbats were found across much of arid and semi-arid southern Australia, however, only two naturally occurring populations remain, both in south-west Western Australia.

Ecology

Numbats are diurnal, and have an extremely specialised diet comprised almost exclusively of termites. As the sun rises and the day heats up, the temperature of the upper layers of soil increases, and termites move in to a network of shallow tunnels and chambers just below the ground surface. Numbats detect the termites with their acute sense of smell, and use their front paws to scrape away the soil and expose them, before licking them up with their long tongue.

Sanctuaries Where You Can Find the Numbat

© Joey Clarke/AWC
New South Wales

Scotia

“Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary … a vitally important project for Australia and for the planet.” – Sir David Attenborough Scotia Wildlife...

© Brad Leue/AWC
Western Australia

Mt Gibson

Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary protects a large area of diverse habitat in the south of Western Australia. As the site...

© Wayne Lawler/AWC
New South Wales

Mallee Cliffs National Park

Spanning over 58,000 hectares in western New South Wales, Mallee Cliffs National Park contains one of the largest feral-proof fences...

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