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!