How to attract bandicoots to your backyard

How to attract bandicoots to your backyard

Live in the Ade­laide Hills and wouldn’t mind a vis­it from a bandi­coot? Here’s how you can encour­age them to pop in.

There were once eight bandi­coot species in South Aus­tralia, but the south­ern brown bandi­coot is now the only one remain­ing. Spot­ting these rat dop­pel­gangers is extreme­ly rare because they are endangered.

The good news is, the south­ern brown bandi­coot is mak­ing a come­back in the Ade­laide Hills – they’ve been spot­ted in Kuit­po For­est and more recent­ly in a back­yard in Crafers.

Who wouldn’t want this guy for a housemate?

If you wouldn’t mind a bandi­coot as a ten­ant in your back­yard, here’s some things to con­sid­er to make your back­yard as attrac­tive as possible.

They like a lot of room

It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that one bandi­coot needs a lot of room – up to 6 hectares. That’s one of the rea­sons why these guys are in trou­ble because there is sim­ply not enough habi­tat to sup­port groups of them.

Don’t let that put you off though – mak­ing your back­yard bandi­coot-friend­ly could con­tribute to the big­ger pic­ture – the key is to think about how your back­yard con­nects to your neigh­bours and near­by parks.

Read about how 19 land­hold­ers are mak­ing their prop­er­ties bandi­coot-friend­ly.

They like diverse habitat

The main habi­tat types that bandi­coots are found in are stringy­bark euca­lypt forests and wood­lands with dense shrubs and under­storey that offer pro­tec­tion from preda­tors. This means less trees, and more plants up to 3 metres high.

When it comes to a poten­tial pad, bandi­coots like diver­si­ty. They’re usu­al­ly found in places where the under­storey – think plants no high­er than 1m – is made up of up to sev­en dif­fer­ent plant species for every square metre.

To put that into per­spec­tive, for every tree there’s gen­er­al­ly 500 under­storey plants.

Don’t wor­ry though, you don’t need to fit 500 plants in your yard to make a difference.

Some bandi­coot-approved under­storey plants are the beard­ed heath (Leu­co­pogon con­curvus), com­mon fat-pea (Platy­lo­bi­um obtu­san­gu­lum), wire rapi­er-sedge (Lep­i­dosper­ma semi­teres), silky Guinea-flower (Hib­ber­tia sericea) and shrub vio­let (Hyban­thus flori­bun­dus).

Fun facts: these ecosys­tem engi­neers’ excel at dig­ging which is great for your backyard’s soil health. Also, bandi­coot poo is also very good for soil health and trees and can also reduce the risk of fire.

Big­ger isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly better

Shrubs – plants between 1m and 3m high – are just as impor­tant as your under­storey plants. And it’s impor­tant to remem­ber they don’t need to be big and bushy.

A few good options to con­sid­er are heath wat­tle (Aca­cia myr­ti­fo­lia), sil­ver banksia (Banksia mar­gina­ta), large-leaved bush-pea (Pul­te­naea daph­noides), yac­ca (Xan­th­or­rhoea semi­plana) or hakea (Hakea car­i­na­ta).

Make sure you research what species would best fit your gar­den. Con­sid­er the height, width, root depth and spread.

Keep in mind that some of these plants aren’t that easy to grow and are a lit­tle hard to find, so you might need to look around for a nurs­ery that will pro­vide them. State Flo­ra is a great place to start.

Trans­form­ing your gar­den to a native won­der­land won’t just ben­e­fit wildlife either – native plants gen­er­al­ly need less water, less fer­tilis­er and less look­ing after in general.

They’re OK with messy housemates

Not the neat­est per­son on the block? You don’t need to keep your gar­den neat and tidy to entice bandi­coots. In fact, a good bandi­coot habi­tat gen­er­al­ly has dead plants and fall­en branch­es to pro­vide pro­tec­tion for these fur­ry marsupials.

They aren’t going to be best friends with your cat

Keep in mind that Mit­tens’, Sim­ba’ or Tig­ger’ are a threat to any bandi­coot that comes into your back­yard – and it’s best to keep your cat indoors to keep your wildlife vis­i­tors safe.

Oth­er things to keep in mind

If you’re lucky enough to live on a prop­er­ty with a decent patch of scrub, main­tain­ing that poten­tial bandi­coot habi­tat is the best thing you can do.

Bandi­coots become vul­ner­a­ble when the under­storey is opened up, so reduc­ing graz­ing pres­sure (if you have stock) can help keep them safe. Plus, it might even allow native plants to nat­u­ral­ly regenerate.

If you spot one in your area, con­tact our threat­ened wildlife team to help inform them about new sight­ings of this endan­gered species.

If you’re inter­est­ed in attend­ing a Back­yards for Bandi­coots work­shop, keep an eye on the Ade­laide and Mount Lofty Ranges Nat­ur­al Resources Man­age­ment Board Face­book page or the events tab on their web­site. You can also join the Bandi­coot Recov­ery Action Group to help with con­ser­va­tion efforts.

You can read more about mak­ing your back­yard bandi­coot-friend­ly by down­load­ing thisfact sheet. And if you’re inter­est­ed in attract­ing oth­er species to your gar­den, check out our posts aboutbirdsandnative bees.

Main image: Crafers res­i­dent John Nichols in his back­yard with asouth­ern brown bandi­coot.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living