About the bandicoot
The bandicoot is the GreenWay’s most famous furry resident. This web page outlines some little-known facts about the bandicoot.
What are bandicoots?
Long-nosed bandicoots are an Australian native animal about the size of a rabbit, with pointed ears, a short tail, grey-brown fur and, not surprisingly, a long nose. Bandicoots sleep during the day and forage for food at night.
Why are the GreenWay’s bandicoots so special?
While there are several small populations of bandicoots spread across national parks and heavily forested areas in Sydney, the GreenWay bandicoot is the only population to be located in such a heavily urbanised area.
Up until the 1960s, the bandicoot was common throughout the Sydney region, including in suburbs fronting the Cooks River such as Dulwich Hill and Marrickville. However, by the 1970s, bandicoot numbers had dramatically declined and it was considered there was no longer a population inSydney’s inner-west.
There was great joy following the discovery of a bandicoot was in the backyard of a home at New Canterbury Rd, Dulwich Hill in 2002. This discovery was the catalyst to the listing of the inner-western bandicoot colony as an endangered population in 2008. The other Sydney bandicoot colony to be listed as endangered is at North Head. A bandicoot was also sighted and photographed in a Dulwich Hill backyard in 2011 (see photo above left).
Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that the bandicoot has mastered Sydney’s busy roads, with a number of confirmed road-kills over the years (see photo below right).
While bandicoots have not returned to many others parts of Sydney(including the Cumberland plain in western Sydney), Sydney’s inner-west is proud to continue to be home to a small population of these native animals.
Do the bandicoots actually live in the GreenWay?
Bandicoots are usually known for sleeping in nests made from grass and other plant material and as such it is possible that some bandicoots are living in open space in the corridor. However, recent research has actually shown that the inner-west bandicoot also likes to live in the cavities under old houses and it suggested they use the GreenWay corridor to disperse when under threat or to seek food.
A 2010 study placed tracking devices on several bandicoots at Lewisham, within 700m of the former goods line corridor (the central spine of the GreenWay). The study speculated that bandicoots were “yuppies” because they liked living in (or, to be more exact, under) older Victorian terrace and Federation-style buildings. It found the bandicoots would use gaps between foundation bricks or sandstone blocks to get access to these cavity areas under floor-boards. It speculated that bandicoots may have disappeared from western Sydney because it contained newer homes were built on concrete slabs and therefore didn’t contain these under-floor cavity areas.
However, these were only preliminary findings and the bottom line is that far more research needs to be undertaken about the inner-west bandicoot’s living and sleeping patterns.
What sort of bushland do bandicoots like?
Bandicoots are best known for living in forest and healthland areas. However, at the time of writing (June 2012) many parts of the GreenWay corridor were heavily infested with weeds, rather thannative bushland. Ironically, the evidence is that our inner-western bandicoot friends have no problem with this sort of cover.
The GreenWay Revegation and Bushcare Plan recommends that weed removal should carefully planned and staged to avoid major impacts on bandicoot habitat. For instance, weed removal should be accompanied by the re-establishment of native bush.
What are the bandicoot’s enemies?
Unfortunately, stray cats, dogs and foxes can all prey on bandicoots.
A number of foxes have been sighted around the GreenWay in recent years. For instance, this fox was photographed next to JohnsonPark, Dulwich Hill during 2011.
There is little that can be done about the foxes. It is very difficult to lay baits for them (as happens in rural areas) given that such baits are likely to also be eaten by pet cats and dogs from nearby homes. Trapping has the same difficulties.
So how can we help protect the bandicoot?
There are many ways to protect the bandicoot. For instance, people can:
- Not to let their cats or dogs wander at night due to possibility of bandicoot predation.
- Not leave food out at night (such as dog food left in a bowl) as this can attract predator animals such as foxes or animals that compete for food such as rats
- Establish an area in the garden as a native fauna sanctuary, to provide shelter and food
- Remove exotic noxious weeds and replace with local native plants in clusters, with a variety of local native grasses, shrubs and trees to provide protective habitat.
People may also be able to preserve the bandicoot by retaining under-floor cavities as part of building works, or constructing new buildings on piers rather than slabs.
Property owners wanting to do a development in this mapped area may need to obtain an expert report looking at bandicoot issues as part of the application. This report would be most likely to be required if the land is more than 450 square metres in size and more than 25 per cent of the site (including the sub-floor area) is to be disturbed. This will allow the council to properly assess potential bandicoot impacts before giving development approval (or refusal). (NOTE: This advice should be verified by Marrickville Council as part of the development application process).
How will a cycle and walkway through the GreenWay assist the bandicoot?
The path is likely to bring additional people into the GreenWay and therefore make it a less attractive environment for the fox, a notoriously shy animal. It will also result in greater attention to bandicoot-friendly bushcare in the corridor along with education about how to best protect this critter.
A cycling and walking path through the GreenWay will need to be carefully planned to reduce, as much as possible, any impacts on bandicoot habitat.
The GreenWay would be most likely to be used during the day, while the bandicoot is mainly active at night – also helping with co-existence!
(Note: The above information about the bandicoot was verified by the GreenWay Sustainability Project).