Here at Arid Recovery, it’s pretty quiet during the day - you could almost be excused for thinking that we don’t have any animals inside the Reserve! However, at night time the Reserve is alive with a range of critters darting across dunes and foraging through foliage.
Many of the animals that live in the arid zone are nocturnal. This means that they sleep during the day and are active during the night when the weather is much cooler. It is often mammal species that are nocturnal; however reptiles and amphibians may also become more active at night during the warmer months.
So now that we know the animals are only seen at night, where do they go during the day?
Each of our re-introduced species has a unique home that they can retire to after a long night. These homes keep the animals safe and cosy, and can house one or a large number of critters, depending on the animal and its home.
- The Greater Stick-nest Rat builds its home out of sticks (above). The nest is generally built around a bush and can be over 1 metre in height. Sticks and branches are dragged to the site in the rat’s mouth, with larger branches gnawed down to a manageable size and added to the nest. The sleeping sites within the nest contain soft vegetation and grass, with tunnels built from the outside to reach these points.
- Burrowing Bettongs construct a burrow in deep loam or sandy areas, and are the only member of the macropod family to shelter underground. The burrows often form warrens, which have multiple entrances. The floor of the warren is lined with vegetation to create nests for sleeping. Complex warren systems can have 11 or 12 entrances. One warren system found on Barrow Island had 120 entrances with about 60 bettongs living in it!
- Bilbies are powerful diggers, constructing a spiralling burrow which may be 3 metres long and up to 1.8 metres deep. The entrance to a bilby burrow is often under a small shrub and at Arid Recovery is usually left open. At other locations bilbies often backfill their burrow entrance, possibly to protect it from predators or to regulate the burrow temperature. Bilbies frequently dig new burrows and occasionally return to their old ones.
- The Western Barred Bandicoot (WBB) shelters during the daylight hours in a nest. It digs a shallow hollow in the ground, usually under a low shrub and fills the hollow with sticks and leaves. A single entrance and exit point is disguised from predators using leaves, and the WBB will make a quick exit if disturbed by predators. Some WBB’s will use the same nest repeatedly over the course of the week, while others will move to a new nest each night. If caught out in the open a bandicoot will use another animal’s burrows to shelter in until the threat has gone away.
Many other animals are known to live underground at Arid Recovery, including sand goannas, scorpions, spiders and the incredible Trilling frog.