OBSERVATIONS ON THE BANDED ANT-EATER MYRMECOBIUS F. FASCIATUS WATERHOUSE (MARSUPIALIA), WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO ITS FOOD HABITS
Article first published online: 20 AUG 2009
1960 The Zoological Society of London
Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London
Volume 135, Issue 2, pages 183–207, October 1960
How to Cite
CALABY, J. H. (1960), OBSERVATIONS ON THE BANDED ANT-EATER MYRMECOBIUS F. FASCIATUS WATERHOUSE (MARSUPIALIA), WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO ITS FOOD HABITS. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 135: 183–207. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1960.tb05841.x
- Issue published online: 30 OCT 2009
- Article first published online: 20 AUG 2009
- Accepted 9th February 1960
New observations are recorded on the banded ant-eater or numbat (Myrmecobius f. fasciatus Waterhouse), of south-western Australia. It lives in shrub woodland in which the majority of trees are eucalypts (chiefly E. redunca Schau. var. elata Benth.), the heartwood of most of which are eaten out by the termito, Coptotermes acinaciformis (Frogg.). The woodland floor is strewn with fallen hollow limbs and logs with which the animal is associated and runs to when disturbed.
The past and present geographical distribution has been examined, showing a considerable shrinkage of range since European occupation. The subspecies M. f. rufus Wood Jones is recorded in Western Australia for the first time.
The nominate race is diurnal and in general is solitary, and observations suggest that it holds some sort of territory. Its general daily behaviour and feeding methods are described. The food habits were determined chiefly from seat analysis. It lives largely on termites scratched from the soil, but ants make up about 15 per cent of its diet. All species of termites are eaten, roughly in proportion to their abundance and availability, but the bulk of ants eaten are the small predatory species. The numbat probably does not search for ants but these are ingested incidentally when they swarm in to prey on the exposed termites.
The young, of which there are normally four, are born from summer to autumn or early winter (January to April or May) and are carried or nursed by the mother through the winter. There is evidence of a seasonal cycle of fertility in the male.
Observations are also given on growth of young, voice, adult weight, parasites, possible predators, and other subjects.
The reasons for the numbat's decline are discussed and some suggestions are given regarding its conservation.