The numbat is a small marsupial that lives in Western Australia. The average length of a numbat is 13-18 inches. It has reddish-brown fur with white stripes on the back and a pointed head. Due to the small size of the numbat is hunted by many animals like foxes, dingoes, birds of prey etc. It spends the night hiding in hollow logs or burrows that are too narrow for its predators to enter through. Its rump is very thick skinned, so it blocks the entrance of the shelter with its rump for protection.
The female numbat does not have a pouch like most other marsupials. The female gives birth to a litter of four babies at a time. Right after birth the young crawl towards the teats and attach to it. There are four teats which are protected by a patch of long hair. The hair also protects and keeps the young warm. During the lactation (nursing) period the surrounding abdomen and thighs swell to provide further protection to the young. The young spend the first few months of their life attached to their mother’s teats.
The numbat feeds exclusively on termites. About 20,000 termites are eaten per day. Even though it has claws they are not strong enough to break through the concrete-like mounds of the termites to reach inside. Therefore it has to wait till the termites exit their homes. The numbat has a long sticky tongue to help it to lick up the termites. There are many ridges along the numbat’s soft palate that helps to scrape off termites from the tongue. This is another adaptation to the numbat’s diet.
The YouTube video playlist below contains videos about numbats. Details of the videos featured are underneath.
- Numbat by Patrick Hamlyn
- Hand-raising Baby Numbats at Perth Zoo by PerthZoo
- WPSA’s Numbat Project by WPSA1909