Sad day for fans of the pig-footed bandicoot

pig-footed bandicoot

Good news came down this week for individuals who buy and sell pig-footed bandicoots: the ban on international trade of the small marsupial was lifted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

The bad news is that the embargo was removed because the pig-footed bandicoot, native to Australia, is believed to have been extinct for approximately 60 years.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species also lifted bans on trade of the Tasmanian tiger and the buff-nosed kangaroo rat for the same reason, according to Agence France-Presse.

The pig-footed bandicoot was native to western New South Wales and Victoria, the southern part of the Northern Territory as well as South Australia and Western Australia, according to a 19th century guide to marsupials.

It had a wide range of habitat, from grassy woodland to grassland plains into even desert-like plains, according to the website Red Orbit.

The pig-footed bandicoot had a body size of 8 to 10 inches long, with a 6-inch tail. It possessed long, slender limbs, large, pointed ears, and a long tail. Its body looked not unlike a cross between a large shrew and a reasonably well-fed Chihuahua.

What set the pig-footed bandicoot apart from other marsupials was that its forefeet had two functional toes with hoof-like nails, much like a pig or deer.

Traditional range of pig-footed bandicoot is shown in brown. Source: Wikipedia.

Traditional range of pig-footed bandicoot is shown in brown. Source: Wikipedia.

The hind feet had an enlarged fourth toe with a heavy claw shaped like a tiny horse’s hoof, with the other toes being vestigial: only the fused second and third toes being useful, and that not for locomotion but for grooming, according to Wikipedia.

Another interesting feature of the pig-footed bandicoot was that it had a broad head and long, slender snout.

Unlike some other species that have gone extinct over the past couple of centuries, it appears the pig-footed bandicoot was on the wane before “civilized” man arrived in its habitat.

Two specimens were obtained by local people in the 1850s for an Australian zoologist, and only a handful of specimens were collected through the second part of the 19th century, mostly from northwestern Victoria.

By the start of the 20th century, the marsupial had become extinct in Victoria and the southwest of Western Australia. The last certain specimen was collected in 1901.

By 1945 the species was no longer to be found in South Australia and was reported to be limited to “a slight foothold in central Australia,” according to a work published that year titled Extinct and Vanishing Mammals of the Old World.

Still, Aboriginal people reported the pig-footed bandicoot in the Gibson Desert and the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia as late as the 1950s.

The cause behind its extinction remains unclear.

The Tasmanian tiger was a dog-like marsupial that was driven to extinction by farmers protecting their sheep, according to the wire service.

The last known specimen died in a Hobart, Tasmania, zoo in 1936 and the species was declared extinct by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in 1982, according to Agence France-Presse.

The buff-nosed kangaroo rat, also called the desert rat-kangaroo, was discovered by Europeans in the early 1840s, but following these early sightings, it went unrecorded for 90 years and was widely believed extinct.

It was rediscovered in 1931 when a thriving colony was discovered in the Simpson Desert. However, after a few years that population was found to have disappeared. The last confirmed record of the species came in 1935.

This is one of the first times that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species has withdrawn extinct species from its list, which comprises some 35,000 protected species.


4 thoughts on “Sad day for fans of the pig-footed bandicoot

  1. We have lost so many of our native animals to introduced rabbits, feral cats and foxes… grrr…
    The poor bandicoots might have been on their way out before these arrivals but once they were here it was just a matter of time before it was all over for them 😦

    • Australia has and had so many fascinating creatures; it’s a shame that such pedestrian beasts as rabbits, cats and foxes contributed to the extinction of some of them.

      We here in the States usually took care of erradicating species ourselves, rather than leaving it to our four-legged friends. Carolina Parakeets, Passenger Pigeons and California Golden Bears are just a few that are no longer around.

  2. Very thought-provoking article, as usual, Cotton. My hubby and I were just talking about the California Brown bear. According to my sources they are extinct, but Vince thinks otherwise. Are Golden Bears different than Brown bears?

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