Numbat is an Australian origin marsupial anteater. Myrmecobius fasciatus is the scientific name of Numbat. The name Numbat came in to use by the mispronunciation of its original local name noombat. And in 1836 it was officially declared in records. This specie is closely related to Tasmanian tiger which no more exists. The existence of very few of these has marked Numbat as a critically endangered species. There are 500-600 Numbat individuals left in Australian wild.
Numbat is very small squirrel sized animal. It is as small as 20-27 cm in length and weighs about 400-700 g. They have colorful fur with strips all along their spine. Numbat has reddish yellowish colored fur at the shoulders and gradually the color becomes pale after dat. There are about 5-10 strips on the fur along the spine. The stripes help in protecting Numbat from its predators. They have life span of 4 to 8 years.
They have a small face with sharp snout and long uprooted ears. There is a black strip on its face running from nose to ears and have white eyebrows above it. They have long tongue with 50-54 teeth. It has about 200 mm long bushy tail. The diurnal characteristic of Numbat makes it distinct from many other Australian marsupials which are nocturnal.
Prior to European colonization they existed in semi-arid and arid woodlands. There was a wide spread across southwest of southern Australia to Northern territories. But gradually after 1980’s they were restricted to Peru nature reserve and Dryandra woodlands of south Western Australia.
Numbat is carnivorous marsupials. They feed upon termites, ants and small insects. Their long tongue helps in easy capture of their prey. But their teeth cannot be used for eating as it is not properly developed. Their teeth are seldom seen because of their improper growth. They consume as much as 15,000 t0 20,000 termites per day.
In the period of December to January male Numbat goes in search of females for mating. And the mating period is generally between January and May. Males produce a kind of scent to attract females. Generally female Numbat attains sexual maturity in their first year only, whereas it takes two years for males.
They gestation period is just 14 days. It can give birth to about 4 young ones at a time .The young ones are pink in color and are hairless The females have a pouch in their lower belly part to safeguard their little ones. Mother nurtures its young ones in their belly fur for about 6 months. After 6 months period the mother drops the young ones into burrow shell and protects it there.
Since Numbat are very small creatures most of the bigger wild animals are their threat. Foxes are their major threat and it is one of the main causes for Numbat’s extinction.
Interesting facts about Numbat
- Numbats looks like bats when born.
- Female Numbat donnot have pouches like any other marsupials. So the newly born Numbat is found clinging to the belly fur.
- They are mainly active during days unlike other marsupials.
- They are commonly found in hollow log or underground burrows.
- It can eat about 20,000 termites a day, which is like 10% of its body weight.