Numbat

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Numbat

The numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus), also known as the banded anteater, marsupial anteater, or walpurti, is a marsupial found in Western Australia. Its diet consists almost exclusively of termites. Once widespread across southern Australia, its range is now restricted to several small colonies, and it is listed as an endangered species. The numbat is an emblem of Western Australia and protected by conservation programs.

The numbat is a small, colourful creature between 35 and 45 centimetres (14 and 18 in) long, including the tail, with a finely pointed muzzle and a prominent, bushy tail about the same length as its body. Colour varies considerably, from soft grey to reddish-brown, often with an area of brick red on the upper back, and always with a conspicuous black stripe running from the tip of the muzzle through the eyes to the bases of the small, round-tipped ears. Between four and eleven white stripes cross the animal’s hindquarters, which gradually become fainter towards the midback. The underside is cream or light grey, while the tail is covered with long, grey hair flecked with white. Weight varies between 280 and 700 g (9.9 and 24.7 oz).

Numbats are insectivores and eat an exclusive diet of termites. An adult numbat requires up to 20,000 termites each day. The only marsupial fully active by day, the numbat spends most of its time searching for termites. It digs them up from loose earth with its front claws and captures them with its long, sticky tongue. Despite its banded anteater name, it apparently does not intentionally eat ants; although the remains of ants have occasionally been found in numbat dung, these belong to species that themselves prey on termites, so were presumably eaten accidentally, along with the main food. Known predators on numbats include carpet pythons, introduced red foxes, and various falcons, hawks, and eagles.

Numbat

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