Click the logo to return to the home page
The
Australian Bilby Appreciation Society

Mr Bilby can take you

to learn how to help
Save Bilbies

to show you where to
See Bilbies

to meet
The Easter Bilby

to show you some
Bilby Photos & Videos

or follow some of our
Bilby Links

and don't forget the
Appreciation Society
 

What is a Bilby Anyway?

This page will provide you with some basic facts (and some trivia) about the Bilby - for more information you should view our Bilby Fact Sheet at the bottom of this page and refer to the links at the left of the page.

Bilby at Charleville

Some Bilby Facts

  • The Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis) is on the endangered list, the Lesser Bilby (Macrotis leucura) is believed to be extinct.
  • The Greater Bilby, usually referred to as the Bilby, is the largest of the bandicoots, measuring up to 55cm in length (body only) with a tail up to 29cm long. Adult males weigh up to 2.5 kg and females about half that.
  • Bilbies are also known as Rabbit-Eared Bandicoots.
  • They are marsupials.  The pouch opens backwards so as not to be filled with dirt while digging.
  • The word Bilby is from Yuwaalaraay, an Aboriginal language (source: The Australian National University).
  • Bilby fur is very soft. It is mainly blue-grey, with some fawn.  The belly is white and the tail is black with a white crest at the end and a naked spur-like tip.
  • The large ears of the Bilby are almost hairless.  As well as providing great hearing, they are believed to help keep the Bilby cool.
  • The long snout, which is pink and hairless at the tip, gives the Bilby an excellent sense of smell.
  • Bilbies have poor eyesight, so it is just as well their hearing and smelling senses are so good.
  • The Bilby's strong forelimbs with their long claws make them brilliant burrowers.
  • Bilbies live in spiraling burrows which they dig up to 2 metres deep.  A Bilby may have up to a dozen burrows.
  • The Bilby is truly nocturnal. They don't emerge from their burrows until at least an hour after dusk, and retreat at least an hour before dawn.  A full moon, strong wind or heavy rain can keep Bilbies in their burrows all night.
  • Bilbies are omnivorous. Some of the things they eat include: seeds, spiders, insects and their larvae, bulbs, fruit, fungi and small animals.
  • The Bilby (like the koala) doesn't drink water, it gets all it needs from its food.
  • Bilbies breed all year round.  Their gestation period is only 12 to14 days and young, between one and three in a litter, remain in the pouch for 75 to 80 days, and are independent about 2 weeks later.
  • The Bilby was chosen by the Commonwealth of Australia Endangered Species Program as a mascot representing all endangered species.
  • To raise public awareness of endangered Australian species a campaign has been launched to replace the Easter bunny with the Bilby, hence we now have the Easter Bilby and Chocolate Bilbies!

Some Bilby Trivia

A soft toy Bilby has been to the Top of the World!!  In May 1997, Tashi Tenzing - grandson of Tenzing Norgay - reached the summit of Mount Everest.  The following extract is from "Tenzing and the Sherpas of Everest" written by Tashi and his wife Judy, who live in Sydney.

"At 9:30pm we roused and began to pack for the summit.  The most important item of all to be placed in my pack was the small Buddha my mother had given me years before to place on the summit.  In all the years of Everest climbing this had never been done and it was important to me that this symbol of the deeply held beliefs of all Sherpas and Tibetans be placed atop the highest point on earth, the abode of the gods.  On the very top of my pack I had attached a small, fluffy toy bilby, which is a highly endangered Australian marsupial.  My son had asked me to carry it and it also symbolised my heartfelt wish to conserve the wild places and creatures of this amazing planet."

Tenzing and the Sherpas of Everest, by Judy and Tashi Tenzing
ISBN 0 7322 67250
Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Pty Limited 2001
 
Bilby Fact Sheet

View the Austrailian Bilby Appreciation Society Bilby Fact Sheet.