Building bungalows for bandicoots

Southern Brown Bandicoot, courtesy Bertram Lobert, Wiki Commons

Scientists are providing new homes for Adelaide Hills bandicoot populations in an effort to protect this endangered species.

In areas with a lack of native habitat available, bandicoot bungalows have been constructed from pallets to provide these creatures with a home base and stepping stones into new territory.

“To make these eco-friendly bungalows, we use a wooden pallet which is laid on the ground then we add branches, grass and sticks to the top to provide dense shelter,” School of Biological Sciences project leader Dr Jasmin Packer said.

To assess the suitability of these new dwellings, bandicoot ‘Big Brother’ is watching to capture video data on how often, and in what way, the bandicoots use the structures.

“This will give us better data on their current activity levels. If they're not using the bungalows in some habitats, we can work on our designs further to make them even more appealing,” Dr Packer said.

Watch the 'bandicoot broadcast'

Connecting isolated populations

Southern brown bandicoot numbers in the Mount Lofty Ranges have been on a steady decline in recent years. Researchers have learned that bandicoot numbers are reduced by several factors including predators; changes in native habitats caused by humans, other animals and weeds; and also changes in climate.

University of Adelaide research has highlighted the need to connect genetically isolated populations of these marsupials, so they can intermingle to ensure their survival. Providing a safe environment in areas where there is a lack of native habitat is a first step to creating stepping stones between these isolated bandicoot populations.

The next stage of Dr Packer's project is being planned in collaboration with Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Landcare SA, and other non-government partners.

It will involve the deployment of more bandicoot bungalows and wildlife cameras to assess whether these ‘big nest boxes’ can help the endangered creatures move into habitat that is currently unsuitable.

Tagged in Research, Biological Science, Environmental Science, Animal Science, Ecology, Ecotourism