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Lesser Bilby
220px-Lesserbilby
Information
Common Name Yallara, Lesser Rabbit-eared Bandicoot, and White-tailed Rabbit-eared Bandicoot
Range Central Australia
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Peramelemorphia
Family Thylacomyidae
Genus Macrotis
Species M. leucura
Conservation Status
EXSpecies
Extinct
The lesser bilby (Macrotis leucura), also known as the yallara, the lesser rabbit-eared bandicoot or the white-tailed rabbit-eared bandicoot, was a rabbit-like marsupial. The species was first described by Oldfield Thomas as "Peregale leucura" in 1887 from a single specimen from a collection of mammals of the British Museum. Reaching the size of a young rabbit, this species lived in the deserts of Central Australia. Since the 1950s-1960s, it has been believed to be extinct.

Description

The lesser bilby was a medium-sized marsupial with a body mass of 300 to 450 grams (11 to 16 oz). Its fur colour ranged from pale yellowish-brown to grey-brown with pale white or yellowish-white fur on its belly, with white limbs and tail. The tail of this animal was long, about 70% of its total head-body length.

Distribution and Habitat

Very little is known about its former range and distribution, as the species was collected only six times in modern history, with the first of these coming from an unknown region.

In modern times this species was endemic to the Gibson and Great Sandy deserts of arid central Australia and to northeast South Australia and adjoining southeast Northern Territory in the northern half of the Lake Eyre Basin.

It preferred to live in sandy and loamy deserts, sandplains and dunes covered with spinifex, mulga, zygochloa canegrass and/or tussock grass, as well as in triodia hummock grassland with sparse low trees and shrubs.

Ecology and Behaviour

The lesser bilby, like its surviving relatives, was a strictly nocturnal animal. It was an omnivore feeding on ants, termites, roots, seeds, but it also hunted and fed on native rodents.

It burrowed in sand dunes, constructing burrows 2–3 metres (6 ft 7 in–9 ft 10 in) deep and closing the entrance with loose sand by day. It is suggested that it may have bred non-seasonally and that giving birth to twins was the normality for this species.

Unlike its living relative the greater bilby, the lesser bilby was described as aggressive and tenacious. Finlayson wrote that this animal was "fierce and intractable, and repulsed the most tactful attempts to handle them by repeated savage snapping bites and harsh hissing sounds".

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