Eastern Barred Bandicoot
Spring monitoring at Woodlands Historic Park and Hamilton Community Parklands
Since our last monitoring events in autumn this year, we have been hoping for rain to help our grasslands come along. Thankfully, Hamilton Community Parklands has had some decent rain and the grasslands are in good condition. Unfortunately, Woodlands Historic Park had gone through a dry winter, as well as dry previous summer months. This meant monitoring still had to be done to see how our bandicoot population was fairing.
Woodlands Historic Park trapping took place during the month of October. Approximately 230 traps were set for four nights of surveying. This equates to 23 kilometres to be walked at first light every morning, all in less than four hours. A massive task. This is achieved by breaking the property into six teams to be able to process all the traps effectively. Zoos Victoria play a huge role in assisting the event by providing trained bandicoot handlers. Along with all the volunteers who help, the handlers enter the data gathered electronically, hand over processing gear, and clean and reset the traps.
Earlier in autumn we caught 45 bandicoots. The hope for this monitoring session was not to have the ant population decline during the dry period which would significantly affect their food supply. The good news is that a total of 50 bandicoots were processed. A positive increase from the previous season. 20 of these were cleanskins (never been caught before),32 male,18 female, and the females were carrying a total of 27 pouch young. This is exciting, as at our last event no pouch young were recorded.
The most positive outcome was that the bandicoots were in a healthy condition. The success of bandicoots breeding strongly depends on the quality of their habitat conditions. So, it was fantastic to see them healthy and having adapted so well to their current habitat. We are also very hopeful, that when the grassland habitat starts to restore itself, there should be an increase in their numbers. For now though they are doing well in this scenario.
Hamilton's update will have to be in our next report, as they trap in mid-November. All the signs are looking good for a positive monitoring session. The habitat looks fantastic, so there is plenty of grass nesting sites and plenty of food for the bandicoots. In recent spotlighting events there have been great numbers recorded, of both adult and juvenile animals. Catching them however, is still a challenge.
Woodlands and Hamilton both have plenty of brush tail possums which get to the traps early, and they often set the traps off, getting caught in the process. But we are still hopeful to catch a good number of bandicoots to see how the population is progressing. During the winter there has also been plenty of upgrades done on the properties predator proof fence, weed control and habitat improvement.
So all in all, it has been a great start to the Spring monitoring season
Once again, great work everyone. Thanks for those involved from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Parks Victoria, and all the volunteers, along with the members of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team, who have all assisted in making this project possible.
Travis Scicchitano, Woodlands Project Officer
Eastern Barred Bandicoot