Bandicoots are a much loved and fascinating creature located throughout Australia and New Guinea.
Made popular on a global scale thanks to the Naughty Dog video game series Crash Bandicoot, the creatures have since become a favorite amongst animal lovers – not only in their native home, but all around the world.
However, they remain both underrated and somewhat overlooked, with many people still knowing very little about them.
One example is that they are incredibly fast for an animal of their size – something that only adds to their intrigue.
But exactly how fast can they run, and what benefits does this hold?
What Is A Bandicoot?
The term bandicoot is actually a collective term for around (see also: How To Get Rid Of Bandicoot Around House (Easy Solution))20 species of small marsupials, although the term is most commonly used to refer to a bilby – a small, rabbit-sized marsupial found throughout Australia, New Guinea, and the surrounding territories.
They are generally excitable creatures, and have good temperaments that make them perfectly safe to be around.
However, they are easily stressed, and certain triggers include unpleasant or unusual odors, the presence of household pets and other animals, or bright lights and loud noises.
They are also endangered, and as such are protected by the government. This prohibits the killing or trapping of bandicoots, (see also: Bandicoot Vs Quenda – What’s The Difference?)and means that they cannot be kept as pets by members of the public.
How Fast Can Bandicoots Run?
As we mentioned, bandicoots are generally the size of a rabbit when they are fully grown, but for something so small they can actually travel at quite alarmingly fast speeds.
While the title of this article refers to them being able to run at 15 mph, this is not the top recorded speed, and there have been instances where bandicoots have reached speeds of as high as 24.5 mph.
For context, the fastest human male has only reached speeds of 23.35 miles per hour, with the fastest human female reaching similar speeds of around 21.32 miles per hour.
When you consider that bandicoots are not bipedal creatures, this makes their top speeds even more impressive.
Why Can They Run So Fast?
When it comes to the animal kingdom, there are numerous benefits to being able to run at fast speeds.
The bandicoot generally resides in shrublands, grasslands, woodland, and rainforests, and as such, the need for speed is even greater in these dangerous environments.
They Are Terrestrial
Firstly, bandicoots are terrestrial creatures, which means they lack the ability to climb trees.
This means that they are especially vulnerable to predators, and need to be able to quickly get away when danger strikes.
Their inability to climb trees means that they also do not have the same view as other animals, meaning they cannot always see predators as quickly.
This makes the need to escape even more important.
Protection From Predators
As we mentioned, the speed helps them to be safe from predators, and gives them a fighting chance of getting away and thriving as a species.
If the species never developed speed, they would have quickly died out, especially when combined with their inability to climb trees, and the dangerous environment in which they live.
Bandicoots are omnivores, and live a scavenger lifestyle. This means that they occasionally need to hunt – especially if there is a little viable plantlife.
They generally eat spiders, insects, and small rodents – all of which can be quick and hard to catch.
For this reason, they had to develop speed to even the playing field.
Do They Always Move So Fast?
As an animal that forages, they generally do not use their high speed at all times.
This is because moving at such high speeds can be energetically taxing, eating up their energy reserves in a quicker period of time due to the fact that they are not eating large meals.
There is also little benefit to moving at top speed all the time, and if that was indeed the plan, then they would have to consume a lot of calories to maintain the strength and energy to continue at such a pace.
What Predators Do They Have?
Of course, bandicoots also have predators they need to escape from. But what exactly preys on bandicoots in the wild?
Australia is home to many species of foxes, all of which can be potential predators for bandicoots.
This is due to their smaller size, which can make them sitting ducks for the omnivorous scavenger diet of the fox.
Bandicoots also have to be wary of attacks from above too, as one of their main predators is the eagle.
This is another reason why they need such a high speed, and it is something that can seriously make a difference when an eagle is out on the hunt.
While humans don’t generally eat bandicoots, they can be responsible for their deaths.
This is due to the fact that bandicoots have developed a reputation as pests and vermin because of their presence in the homes and yards of rural living homeowners.
As human beings expand to the countryside, and their paths cross more with wildlife, they become a greater risk for the bandicoot – who could find themselves killed by farming equipment, household pets, or even humans themselves.
Is It Possible To Live With Bandicoots?
Despite their nature as a speedy omnivore, it is actually possible for them to live harmoniously with humans, and their temperament makes them perfectly safe to be around.
However, it is illegal to keep them as a pet in Australia, due to their conservation status as endangered, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t make great natural additions to any garden or outdoor property.
What Benefits Do They Have?
Firstly, they are natural pest control agents – due to their diet of small rodents, venomous spiders like the funnel web spider, and other insects and pests like worms, termites, and ants.
They can also be beneficial for gardens, both due to their pest control abilities, but also because of their burrowing – which while unsightly to some, actually has many benefits to plant growth, seed dispersal, and soil health.
What Are The Downsides?
There are some downsides to having bandicoots in your vicinity, including certain parasites and ticks that they can carry and pass on to humans.
The main parasite is the coxiella burnetiid, which can cause something called Q fever in humans.
Along with the fact that they are protected, this is another reason why it is best not to handle wild bandicoots that appear on your property.
The best thing to do is to let them go about their business and to keep a good distance so as not to spook them, or potentially catch a parasite.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about the bandicoot, and just how fast they can run.
It’s true that bandicoots are an amazing creature, and despite being seen as pests by some, they remain one of the most beloved creatures in Australia and the surrounding territories.
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