The numbat, also known as the banded anteater, or walpurti, is a marsupial found in Western Australia. Its diet consists almost exclusively of termites. Once widespread across southern Australia, its range is now restricted to several small colonies, and it is listed as an endangered species. The numbat is an emblem of Western Australia and protected by conservation programs.
The numbat is a small, colourful creature between 35 and 45 centimetres (14 and 18 in) long, including the tail, with a finely pointed muzzle and a prominent, bushy tail about the same length as its body. Colour varies considerably, from soft grey to reddish-
Unlike most other marsupials, the numbat is diurnal, largely because of the constraints of having a specialised diet without having the usual physical equipment for it. Most ecosystems with a generous supply of termites have a fairly large creature with a very long, thin, sticky tongue for penetrating termite colonies, and powerful forelimbs with heavy claws. There are five toes on the fore feet, and four on the hind feet. Like other mammals that eat termites or ants.
Like many ant-
Although the numbat finds termite mounds primarily using scent, it has the highest visual acuity of any marsupial, and, unusually for marsupials, has a high proportion of cone cells in the retina. These are both likely adaptations for its diurnal habits, and vision does appear to be the primary sense used to detect potential predators. Numbats regularly enter a state of torpor, which may last up to fifteen hours a day during the winter months.
Numbats were formerly found across southern Australia from Western Australia across as far as northwestern New South Wales. However, the range has declined significantly since the arrival of Europeans, and the species has survived only in two small patches of land in the Dryandra Woodland and the Perup Nature Reserve, both in Western Australia. In recent years, it has, however, been successfully reintroduced into a few fenced reserves, including some in South Australia (Yookamurra Sanctuary) and New South Wales (Scotia Sanctuary).
Today, numbats are found only in areas of eucalypt forest, but they were once more widespread in other types of semiarid woodland, Spinifex grassland, and even in terrain dominated by sand dunes.