This little uncommon critter, living only in Australia, is officially called Macrotis, which means “big-eared” in Greek, but is also called a rabbit-bandicoot, and dalgyte (suggested by Janina at An Experiment). It’s the only surviving rare species of the bandicoot superfamily after the lesser bilby became extinct in the 1950s. According to the Australian National University, the animal’s name was derived from an aboriginal language ‘Yuwaalaraay’. Luckily the name of the animal is much simpler and actually pronounceable than the language it hails from. And apparently the more uncommon the creature, the more likely to have a multitude of names.

Though not yet extinct, these animals are slowly becoming endangered due to habitat loss and changes caused by humans, as well as competition for food with other animals. Programs have been established to popularize the bilby to help in conservation efforts. This includes rebranding him as a native Australian Easter Bunny alternative by selling chocolate Easter Bilbies. The Easter Bilby concept was actually used for the first time in March 1968, when a 9-year-old girl named Rose-Marie Dusting, wrote a story called “Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby,” which she published as a book 11 years later. Her story helped bring awareness to this little marsupial and galvanized public interested in saving the bilby.

The greater bilby is a solitary animal, who prefers to wander around alone, though sometimes, bilbies are also seen in rather exclusive groups of no more than four members. They have incredibly poor vision so the large ears help with better hearing and the long snoot helps in smelling which is essentially how the animal finds its way around. The bilby gets all of its water from food and never drinks a drop. Since their food includes small animals, insects and their larvae, they also consume quite a bit a mud when they are eating which is kind of gross. But let’s hope this little creature is able to stick around for years to come!

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Neutral Tint and Titanium White Gouache. Sennelier L’aqaurelle: Opera Rose. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

52 replies on “The Greater Bilby

  1. ahhhh, the Bilby! so cute Charlie! what a wonderful illustration and great info too; the Bilby is just way too adorable to become extinct. Thanks for sharing the love 🙂 ‘cheers mate …. Debi

    Liked by 3 people

  2. water!? Great sketch and post. Get-along yonder Bandicoot ;). Trying to think of anywords that rhyme with Bandicoot… snoot was pretty good 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jessica, Australia is a very dry country, the most arid in the world, apart from the Sahara and the Kobi Desert in China. Obtaining moisture only from the food you eat, therefore, is not uncommon. Much like we humans do, who eat moisture-laden fruits and so on. We could survive for a while just doing that!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I wonder if they would actually drink water, if they might not become so close to extinction?! 🙂 Maybe Debi can get a shot of one with her camera for us. Lovely doodlewash charlie – and fun info!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. He is a cutie, ain’t he, Charlie! Thank you! You’ve done him proud in your doodle. I believe that a portion of sales of Bilby Easter chocies go to help fund keeping this wonderful animal alive through activities such as conservation programs. I’ve been buying Bilby chocs for years! Also, you can see how those kangaroo-like back legs allow them to hop along, just like a kangaroo, and you know how well they do that! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How very cute! Amazing how many exotic animals can be found in Australia! I hope they can manage to survive as a species.. Must be so tough being a solitary creature to lose so much of their habitat.. Great doodlewash, Charlie!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Looks like one of those combination creatures from a medieval manuscript! A lot of animals in Australia (as in all islands) became extinct when Westerners came and not only changed the actual habitat, but introduced alien species. Hope this little guy survives! (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it wild looking, Kerfe?!… I really like these and hadn’t heard of them before. True… humans really did a number on the native creatures there. Since this guy is in the “cute” category, he’s got a better chance for conservation. People prefer the cute species of animals when it comes to protecting them.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not sure if I’ve seen this critter or not before. I have seen a tiny mouse/kangaroo-type creature which looks like this one, but the bilby name is new to me. They may be the same or they may be different – at least I know more about the bilby now… thanks, Charlie!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m very much enjoying that fur, it looks so stroke-able (‘stroke the greater bilby’… in a totally non-euphemistic way, Charlie, you understand!) Looking at those impressive ears, it’s a shame I didn’t have one of these around as a child… we could have been allies!

    Liked by 1 person

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