DEFINITION AND GENERAL DESCRIPTION
The Peramelidae is distinguished from other polyprotodonts by the fusion of digits II and III of the hind feet (syndactyly), a condition more characteristic of diprotodonts. The family is distinguished from diprotodonts by the dentition,particularly by the presence of three pairs of lower incisors, in contrast to thesingle prominent pair in diprotodonts. These characters collectively separate thesuperfamily Perameloidea from all other marsupials. Peramelids differ frommembers of the other family of bandicoots, the bilbies (Thylacomyidae), by
possessing shorter ears (less than about 60 mm; bilbies about 60–110 mm),shorter hair with slightly stiff to very stiff guard hairs (bilbies with long silkyhair) and a shorter tail with short hair or short crest (bilbies with relativelylonger tail and longer hair).Peramelids are small marsupials with a long pointed muzzle; they are usuallystockily built, with short limbs and neck (Fig. 24.1). The head and body length is150–560 mm, tail length 120–340 mm and weight about 200–4700 g. Teeth aresmall, relatively even-sized and pointed, as in typical insectivore teeth(Fig.24.2). The bandicoot body is basically designed for digging in soil toextract invertebrate food. The elongate muzzle and powerful foreclaws are usedfor probing in crevices and rooting and digging in soil.
, Northern BrownBandicoot;
Perameles bougainville notina
, Pig-footed Bandicoot.
(© ABRS)[K. Hollis]