Do you have bandicoots in your backyard?

By Janine Kuehs and Amanda Kristancic. Do you live in a part of Perth with local bushland nearby? Are there quenda present? Do you see their little conical digs on your walks and hear them rustle quickly into the bushes in the evenings? Do you see evidence of their foraging in your backyard? Or hear the dog go off chasing them in the middle of the night?

  • Urban landscapes can provide important novel refuges for threatened wildlife

Local parks and residential gardens are increasingly being recognised for their conservation potential by providing food, water, shelter and other resources to local wildlife such as bees and birds. But what about marsupials?

The quenda (Isoodon fusciventer) is one of few native marsupials living within the bounds of urban Perth. Being ground dwellers, they are at risk from predators such as cats, dogs and foxes, as well as from vehicle strike.

  • Half the residential gardens surveyed were visited by quenda, an endemic bandicoot species

Beginning in 2017, we carried out camera trap surveys of front and back gardens of 65 residential properties in the City of Mandurah.

We compared quenda activity (calculated from the camera trap information) with factors that could indicate potential predation risk (such as activity of domestic dogs and cats, and the presence of artificial or natural protective cover), food availability (including deliberate or inadvertent supplementary feeding, provision of water, and diggable surfaces) and garden accessibility (distance to bushland, permeability of boundary fencing, and garden position).

  • Food availability and vegetation cover were the strongest correlates with quenda activity

Unsurprisingly, quenda were more active where supplementary feeding was present. However , so we can’t recommend it.

Supplemental feeding can become an ecological trap – enticing wildlife into a dangerous situation. it can also make quenda fat, and can transmit disease.

However, quenda were also more active in back yards, and in gardens where there was greater vegetation cover. Planting out your garden with dense, low vegetation is a great way to make it more attractive to bandicoots.

Of concern, cats were also more active in the same backyards with active quenda populations, which could reflect that straying pet cats are attracted to gardens that harbour wildlife populations, including quenda. Almost half of the gardens showed cat activity despite only a small sample of the surveyed residents owning a pet cat.

  • Garden design can improve wildlife habitat for in residential gardens

Results of this study suggest that the design of residential gardens could be extremely important to increase useful habitat for these vulnerable digging mammals. Vegetation, wood mulch and semi-permeable fencing can provide valuable resources needed to support the persistence of quenda across the rapidly changing urban landscape mosaic, where natural and managed (e.g., gardens and parks) green spaces are becoming less common and more isolated.

Garden design principles to provide habitat opportunities for bandicoots, and potentially also other wildlife, in residential gardens. *supported by empirical data in the present study.

To read in more detail please find attached the link to the full paper If you have trouble accessing it, please email a request to us.

A huge thank you to all the participants who welcomed us into their gardens and their homes – we could not have done this without you!

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