Taronga’s Honking Bandicoots
Tuesday 12th April 2011
Taronga’s Honking Bandicoots

Imagine going to the front door to get your morning paper and finding a baby bandicoot on your front lawn! This is how Basil the long-nosed bandicoot came to Taronga Zoo. 

Our animal trainer, Brett, tells us that Basil was about the size of a mouse when he was brought to the zoo by a local. Weighing only 40 grams, Basil was meticulously hand raised by our keepers, who needed to bottle-feed the bandicoot every 2 hours. 

Sadly, bandicoots living in urban areas are easy prey for cats. When a mother bandicoot is startled by a cat attack, she defends her babies by pulling them from her pouch, and throwing them away from the danger. The defenceless young are then found by city-dwellers who often mistake them for pests. 

Today, Basil is being featured by a news crew in a story calling attention to bandicoot populations in urban Sydney. As a bandicoot living in the Education Centre of Taronga Zoo, Basil is clearly used to human attention. Brett coaxes him from his burrow with a big plate of maggots, and Basil is content to be filmed by the news crew, blinking his big eyes up at the lens, and keeping quiet while the presenter asks Brett a few questions.

However, not all our bandicoots are so well-mannered. Here we have a sound bite of Sam Hollings, a keeper at Taronga Zoo, knocking on the ‘front door’ of the burrow belonging to a bandicoot called Bondi. You’ll hear Bondi poke his nose through the pile of twigs and dirt that mask the entrance to his home and make the signature bandicoot honk! 

 

Trish, Zoo Communications Intern