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Myrmecobius fasciatus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Dasyuromorphia Myrmecobiidae

Scientific Name: Myrmecobius fasciatus
Species Authority: Waterhouse, 1836
Common Name(s):
English Numbat, Banded Anteater
French Fourmilier Marsupial Rayé
Spanish Hormiguero Marsupial

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered C1+2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Friend, T. & Burbidge, A.
Reviewer(s): Lamoreux, J. & Hilton-Taylor, C. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Listed as Endangered because there are probably less than 1,000 mature individuals, and the population has undergone a drastic, continuing decline at Dryandra (one of the two native sites for the species), the reasons for which are not understood. The populations at Perup are stable (possibly increasing), and stable, though probably not self-sustaining, at the reintroduced sites. Overall the populations are estimated to have decreased by more than 20% in the last 5 years.
Previously published Red List assessments:
  • 1996 – Vulnerable (VU)
  • 1994 – Endangered (E)
  • 1990 – Endangered (E)
  • 1988 – Endangered (E)
  • 1986 – Endangered (E)
  • 1982 – Endangered (E)
  • 1965 – Status inadequately known-survey required or data sought

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to Australia, where it occurs naturally Dryandra and Perup in south-western Western Australia. This species was formerly widespread across southern semi-arid and arid Australia. There are reintroduced populations in Dragon Rocks Nature Reserve, Batalling State Forest, Tutanning Nature Reserve, and Boyagin Nature Reserve (all Western Australia). There are two fenced, reintroduced populations; Yookamurra Sanctuary (South Australia) and Scotia Sanctuary (New South Wales).
Countries occurrence:
Australia (Western Australia)
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The global population is probably under 1,000. The population at Dryandra has declined drastically, from an estimated peak of approximately 600 in 1992 to 50 today (carrying capacity at the site may be about 300). There have been no declines in Perup (where the habitat is different), and possibly some increase. There are 500-600 reintroduced within the reserves, but none of these is yet considered secure.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Numbats formerly occurred in semi-arid and arid woodlands (Eucalyptus and Acacia) and grasslands (Triodia and Plectrachne). Now they are restricted to eucalypt woodlands in the wettest periphery of the former range. This species is generally solitary and is active during the day foraging mostly on termites from dead trees, logs, and in the leaf litter. The presence of hollow logs was probably less important to the species before the introduction of foxes; they are now seen as being of prime importance (Friend 2008). At night shelter is sought from the burrows of other animals or a bed of grass inside a hollow log.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The introduction of the predatory Red Fox has had a profound impact and continues to be a major threat today (Friend 2008). Changed fire regimes, especially in arid grasslands and habitat destruction in some areas is a concern (Maxwell et al. 1996). Introduced rabbits and raptors (native species whose numbers are overly elevated in fragmented woodlands) are also threats. Frequent fires can be a threat due to the reduction in the number of logs, which the species uses as shelter. The causes of the declines at Dryandra are unknown; fox control may have increased the number of feral cats in the region; the concentration of raptors may also be a problem.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Numbat is listed as a threatened species under Australian law. Both of areas where the species occurs naturally as well as the reintroduction sites are protected areas. A recovery plan was prepared and is being implemented (Friend 1994).

In 1985 this species was only known from Dryandra and Perup, but captive breeding and reintroduction programs have greatly helped to reduce the risk to this species (Friend 2008). Fox control programs are seen as essential to the recovery of this species. Objectives for recovering listed by Maxwell et al. (1996) included increasing the number of self-sustaining populations to at least nine and the number of animals to over 4,000. This has not been achieved however, and with the current, mysterious decline at Dryandra, the Numbat is still highly threatened.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
2. Land/water management -> 2.2. Invasive/problematic species control
2. Land/water management -> 2.3. Habitat & natural process restoration
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery
3. Species management -> 3.3. Species re-introduction -> 3.3.1. Reintroduction
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:Yes
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:Yes
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.3. Trend Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species (Felis catus)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species (Vulpes vulpes)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.2. Problematic native species
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Friend, J. A. 1994. Recovery Plan for the Numbat. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth, Unpublished.

Friend, J. A. 2008. Numbat, Myrmecobius fasciatus. In: S. Van Dyck and R. Strahan (eds), The mammals of Australia. Third Edition, pp. 163-165. Reed New Holland, Sydney, Australia.

IUCN. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Maxwell, S., Burbidge, A.A. and Morris, K. 1996. The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes. Australasian Marsupial and Monotreme Specialist Group, IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland, Switzerland.

Citation: Friend, T. & Burbidge, A. 2008. Myrmecobius fasciatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T14222A4424357. . Downloaded on 27 July 2016.
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