Numbat An Australian Anteater

Numbat Description

Scientific Name: Myrmecobius fasciatus


The numbat is a small termite eating Australian marsupial. Whilst not an anteater is also sometimes called Banded Anteater or Marsupial Anteater. It is classified under the order Dasyuromorphia which puts it with other Australian marsupial carnivores such as the extinct thylacine, the Tasmanian Devil and Quoll.

The numbat is a territorial solitary animal. It prefers to spend most of its time alone. It does however form family groups for parts of the year. Unlike most other marsupials that a nocturnal, the numbat is strictly diurnal; that is, it is only active during the day.

Physical Characteristics

The numbat weighs between 400 to 700 grams and is has a body-length of between 20-27 cm. It has a reddish-brown head and shoulders and upper body that progressively changes colour to black with white stripes on its hindquarters. It has a bushy silver grey bottle-brush tail of about 17 cm which it holds upright when it walks. It has a pointed snout with a long sticky tongue. Its tongue when fully extended is half as long as its body. It has numerous ridges on the roof of its mouth which act like scrapers to remove termites from its tongue so they can be swallowed. Unlike other anteaters that eat termites the numbat does not have powerful clawed legs with which to tear open termite mounds. A male numbat lives for 5 years and a female 6 years.

Original Two Species – One is now extinct

Up until the 1960s there were two subspecies of numbats. Unfortunately the rusty numbat (myrmecobius rufus), became extinct in the 1960s.

Numbat Diet What Do Numbats Eat?

Numbats are one of the truly diurnal marsupials. They forage for food during the daylight.