Bilbies at a glance
Bilbies are well adapted for survival in the semi-arid and arid areas of Australia but they are under threat. They are listed as vulnerable nationally and endangered in Queensland.
- Bilbies are omnivores and eat small lizards, mice, spiders, insects, roots and seeds.
- Bilbies live in burrows that spiral into the ground that are up to 3m long and up to 2m deep.
- Bilbies are great at digging and have long scooped claws and very strong forelimbs to assist with moving a lot of soil.
- Bilbies block off their burrow during the day to keep it cool. ‘Closing the door’ also helps prevent unwanted guests from entering and interrupting their sleep.
- The bilby’s big ears help cool its body. The long ears have a lot of surface area which cools the blood passing through the many blood vessels close to the skin’s surface.
- Male bilbies weigh up to about 2.5kg with females averaging 1.5kg.
- Bilbies are one of fastest breeding mammals on Earth with a 12- to 14-day pregnancy.
- Young emerge from the pouch and are independent at three months and can start breeding at approximately six months.
Bilbies were common in many different habitats throughout Australia until European settlement and occupied more than 70% of mainland Australia. Predation, predominantly by European red foxes and feral cats, resulted in bilby populations now only occurring in the isolated arid and semi-arid areas of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. It has disappeared from 80% of its former range.
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- Download and view the bilby factsheet