Last Reviewed and Updated on January 22, 2023
Bilbies are small mammals found in Australia; the Easter bilby is an Australian alternative to Easter Bunny. While they may be similar to bunnies, they aren’t related to them. Read on to learn some of the most interesting facts about bilby, a small marsupial with many unusual traits.
Basic information about the bilby
The bilby (Macrotis lagotis) is a marsupial native to Australia. They live in arid and semi-arid regions, such as deserts and grasslands.
There is only one living bilby species. The living species is the Greater bilby, or simply bilby (as it’s the only one). The lesser bilby is believed to be extinct since the 1950s-1960s.
Bilbies have a long pointed snout, large ears, and a long tail. They are generally gray or blue-gray in color, with a white belly. They have large ears that radiate heat.
Bilbies are omnivores; their diet includes seeds, fruit, insects, and other small animals.
Females give birth to litters of up to four young. The young are born small and underdeveloped and spend several months in the mother’s pouch before emerging. A female can have up to four litters per year.
Facts About Bilby
We’ve covered all the basics; let’s dive deep into the interesting facts about bilby.
1. Their name means long-nosed rats
The term bilby is a word assimilated from the Yuwaalaraay Aboriginal language of northern New South Wales, and it means a long-nosed rat,
Bilbies are also known as dalgites in Western Australia and occasionally as pinkies in South Australia.
2. They don’t need to drink water
A bilby doesn’t need to drink water; they obtain all of the water they require from the food they eat.
3. They are excellent burrowers
Bilbies dig and build extensive tunnel systems with their forelimbs. They dig multiple burrows within their home range (up to a dozen). They use them for shelter from predators and heat.
4. Female bilbies have pouches
Like most other marsupials (kangaroos…), a female bilby has a pouch in which she carries her young. Unlike most marsupials, the pouch faces backward; this prevents the dirt from getting into the pouch while the mother bilby is digging in the dirt.
5. They have one of the shortest gestation periods among mammals
The gestation period is only about 12 to 14 days. Once born, the joeys (baby bilbies) are underdeveloped and must crawl into the mother’s pouch and latch to one of her teats. They will stay in the pouch for about 70 to 75 days.
6. Males are about twice as large as females are
Males weigh about 2.2 to 5.3 lb / 1 to 2.4 kg and are about the size of a rabbit. Females are smaller and weigh 1.8 to 2.4 lb / 0.8 to 1.1 kg.
7. They are solitary animals but can pair up
Bilbies are generally solitary but can travel in pairs sometimes. These traveling pairs consist of two females.
8. Bilbies like plants that grow after forest fires
When wildfires sweep their habitats, especially when they are followed by heavy rain, the young plants that start growing are a tasty treat for bilbies. But as the land is exposed after fires, this also makes it easier for predators to hunt bilbies.
9. They have poor eyesight
Bilby has very poor eyesight. They have a keen sense of smell and excellent hearing, compensating for their eyesight.
10. They travel long distances when foraging for food
A male bilby will travel up to 3 miles / 5 km when foraging for food. Females cover lesser distances.