The Australian numbat is a cheeky, small, colourful little marsupial between 35 and 45 centimeters long, including his long lushes bushy tail (which is the same length as his body), he has a cute pointed nose, round tipped ears and is soft grey to rusty brown. His colour can vary considerably, from soft grey to reddish-brown, often with an area of brick red on the upper back, he always has a prominent black stripe running from the tip of his nose and mouth area between his eyes and up to his cute little ears, he has between four and eleven white stripes running across his back lower half which lighten as they reach his mid section. His tummy is cream and or light grey, while his tail is covered with long, grey hair flecked with white. He weights between 280 and 700 g.
His favourite food is termites eating up to 20 000 daily, although he is not as well equipped as some other Australian Animals for digging them out. He has around 50 small nonfunctional teeth in his mouth that he rarely uses due to his unique diet of termites. Instead he has an adapted soft palate which is believed to help scrape the termites off his sticky tongue into his mouth so that he can swallow them. He also has a rare cheek tooth located between his premolars and molars which is of unknown purpose. Although extremely active through the warmer months he regularly enter a state of sleepiness in the winter months that may last up to 15 hours a day.
This little guy uses his long narrow tongue coated in thick sticky saliva to pick up his termite dinner. His super nose is fantastic for sniffing out termite mounds and he has the best eyesight between his other marsupial mates, due to the high level of cone cells found in his retina. His keen eyesight allows him to be super aware if there are any predators around, his main Predators are the carpet python, various falcons, hawks and introduced red foxes (which wiped out most of the population in the 19th century).
Although this little guy used to be found spread across a large proportion of Australia they are now mainly located in two small eucalypt forest areas in the ‘Dryandra Woodland’ and ‘Perup Nature Reserve’ in Western Australia. Through breeding programs they have now been introduced successfully into some fenced reserves in South Australia and New South Wales.
A conservation program was introduced in 1980 and has been successful in increasing the numbat population significantly. The Perth Zoo is very closely involved in breeding programs for the numbat in captivity and for its release into fox free areas into the wild. Despite the encouraging degree of success so far, this cheeky little guy still remains at considerable risk of extinction and is classified as an endangered species.
Since 2006, “Project Numbat” volunteers have helped to save the Australian Numbat from extinction. One of “Project Numbat’s” main objectives is to raise funds that go towards conservation projects, and to raise awareness through presentations held by volunteers at schools, community groups and events. To find out more about how you can support this little Aussie Battler through “Project numbat” you can like and follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/projectnumbat or through their website at http://www.numbat.org.au/