The Greater Bilby

Greater Bilby Doodlewater - rabbit-eared bandicoot the Australian Easter Bunny in watercolor

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

Profile photo of 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! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
52 Comments
  1. Susan Feniak 1 year ago

    Australia certainly has its share of extraordinary creatures. Amazing ears!

  2. debiriley 1 year ago

    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

    • Author

      Thanks Debi! 😃💕 Yeah it’s super sad to think of this little guy not being with us any more. Here’s to many more years with bilbies among us!

  3. Jessica Seacrest 1 year ago

    Weird..no water!? Great sketch and post. Get-along yonder Bandicoot ;). Trying to think of anywords that rhyme with Bandicoot… snoot was pretty good 🙂

    • jmnowak 1 year ago

      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!

    • Author

      Thanks Jessica! 😃💕 Lol… Bandicoot with his funky brand of snoot! Okay… maybe not! Yeah… it’s hard to rhyme with that word.

  4. YesterdayAfter 1 year ago

    Great and cute Charlie! 🙂

  5. Jodi 1 year ago

    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!

    • Author

      Thanks Jodi! Glad you liked this! 😃💕Yeah it’s super weird they don’t actually drink water, but it’s mostly humans that are causing their problems. But that’s usually the case! Darn dumb humans! 😉

  6. Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

    I just read a picture book on the bilby! What a fun and wacky critter. Australia seems to have a lot of those. LOL! Love those magnificent ears you drew on him! <3

    • Author

      Thanks Teresa! 😃💕Australia is a goldmine for weird creatures! Those ears were fun to doodlewash… I think I’d take him over the Easter Bunny any day!

  7. Sharon Mann 1 year ago

    What an extraordinary little animal, I love the ears. Beautifully Doodlewashed Charlie.

  8. Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

    Wow! I wonder if this is why human ears continue to grow in size so that (supposedly) it helps us hear better too! 😜 An awesome Doodlewash Charlie! 🎨👍😃❤️

    • Author

      I wish that were true! Seems our ears get bigger and hairier, and yet our hearing gets worse with age. What gives?? Haha! Thanks so much Jill!! 😃💕

  9. Carmel Campbell 1 year ago

    Another cute Aussie! 😊

  10. Teri C 1 year ago

    I am amazed everyday when I see your sketch. Everyone is so wonderfully done. I love your art Charlie!

    • Author

      Awww thanks Teri! 😊 I feel like I just keep doodlewashing things and not really thinking about the outcome. I’m so pleased you like them and think they’re good! 😃💕

  11. jmnowak 1 year ago

    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! <3

    • Author

      Thanks so much for the suggestion, Janina!😃💕 Thrilled you liked the outcome and think I did him proud. Yes… I read that sometimes the proceeds go to help fund conversation which is super cool. I wish we had Easter bilbies here! I want some! 😊

  12. Kari 1 year ago

    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!

    • Author

      Thanks Kari! 😃💕Yeah… humans sort of jacked things up for a lot of those strange creatures in Australia when they started to expand. Many have gone extinct, so here’s to keeping the bilby around for years to come!!

  13. Such a good choice Charlie (thanks Janina!) … I have never seen one in the wild, but I would love to. The Easter Bilby idea is growing steadily, maybe this will help! He really is a cutie.

    • Author

      Thanks Anna! 😃💕I think it would be so cool to see one of these little creatures in the wild. Of course, I’ve never been to Australia so that would prove extra difficult. 😊hehe… but one day I hope to visit!

  14. Adorabilby cute Charlie ….looks a little like my pet opossums I used to have, only difference is they had rounded ears…….chocolate Easter bilbies love it.

    • Author

      Thanks Rebecca! 😃💕 Oh my! you had pet possums?? That’s wild… I wouldn’t have even thought of them as pets. Yeah… the longer the ear, the more chocolate you get I guess. hehe

  15. lizintheshed 1 year ago

    I am feeling all educated after reading that, but also rather thirsty. Off to eat some mud to see if it helps. Thank you!

    • Author

      Haha! Excellent! But the mud is just a side effect when you are licking up insects… just be sure to eat some fruit to wash it down! lol

  16. memadtwo 1 year ago

    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)

    • Author

      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.

  17. cindy rublee 1 year ago

    So funny to see this! I am visiting Sydney right now and just bused all the way downtown this evening to Haigh’s Chocolates to pick up chocolate bilbies to take home for Easter.

    • Author

      Awww cool!! 😃Send some my way, Cindy! lol… When I was researching them, the chocolates looked so cool! Hope you’re having a wonderful trip!!

  18. Tom Merriman 1 year ago

    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!

    • Author

      Yeah…this one jumps like a kangaroo so might be the same thing. The more uncommon the creature the more weird names they seem to get and its confusing! Hehe

  19. Jacob 1 year ago

    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!

    • Author

      Yeah…stroke the bilby just doesn’t have the same ring as stroke the lizard! Haha! But this totally could have been your childhood ally…he’s so cute… You need one. Just don’t let the seal eat it!

  20. artandmoondreams 1 year ago

    Beautiful painting, extraordinary creature…and so cute. Fervent wishes that the Bilby sticks around.

    • Author

      Thanks Haunani!! 😃💕 I never thought about just how many of these uncommon creatures would also be nearly endangered when I started this project. It’s nice to learn more about them and in a tiny way, raise a bit of awareness for them!

  21. Cathe 1 year ago

    What a charming little fellow. My dog looks a bit like him. Wonderful Doodlewash Charlie!

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