(Myrmecobius fasciatus)




Facts about this animal

Numbats reach a head-body-length of 42 cm and weigh about half a kilo. They are characterized by their slender graceful bodies, which are banded and usually reddish-brown. Their ca 17 cm long bushy tails resemble a bottlebrush. They have a narrow, pointed snout, used to extract termites from the soil, and a dark stripe across their eyes. They have 50 small and week teeth and a long thin tongue. It is difficult to mistake them for anything else, because of their distinctive appearance.


Numbats are diurnal. They are termite-eaters consuming up to 20,000 termites per day, the equivalent of ten per cent of their body weight. They dig up the insects' galleries in the soil of the forest floor and lick up the occupants with their long, thin tongues. They shelter in hollow logs that are too narrow for most of their predators to enter. If an enemy invades, numbats can use their rumps, which have extremely thick skin, to plug the hollow. The prime habitat of numbats is Wandoo woodland, which has a high concentrations of termites, and the trees drop many hollow branches, used by the animals as nest sites and refuges.


Female numbats mostly have litters of four. The naked young are usually born between January and March and stay attached to the teats until they grow fur. When furred, but still unweaned, they are placed in a small underground chamber lined with grass and leaves, at the end of a one to two metre long burrow, while their mother hunts for termites. The young are able to fend for themselves by October and disperse by the end of the year.

Did you know?
that the Numbat is the mammal emblem of Western Australia? By the way, WA's bird emblem is the Black Swan, and the floral emblem is the Red and Green Kangaroo Paw


Name (Scientific) Myrmecobius fasciatus
Name (English) Numbat
Name (French) Fourmilier marsupial rayƩ
Name (German) Ameisenbeutler
Name (Spanish) Numbat
Local names Australia: Banded anteater, walpurti
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Southern and south-western Australia
Habitat Woodlands and grasslands
Wild population Not more than 1000 (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population One colony of 20 to 30 animals at Perth Zoo, none outside Australia.

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 75 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Martin Pot

Why do zoos keep this animal

Because numbats are threatened in the wild, conservation breeding with a view of introducing the offspring into safe habitats is the main purposes of keeping them.