Greater Bilby, Macrotis lagotis

Where do they live?
You would have to travel into the Outback to find the Greater Bilby. Populations are now found within the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory, in the Great Sandy and Gibson Deserts, parts of the Pilbara and Kimberley (near Broome), regions of Western Australia and the clay and stony soils of the Mitchell grasslands of southwest Queensland.

What is their habitat?
Greater Bilbies can be found in a range of habitats, from dry rocky soils with little ground cover to semi-arid shrublands and woodlands. They are also known to live in spinifex and tussock grassland regions.

What’s special about them?
Bilbies are special in many ways. For example, with their very long ears, they are sometimes called Australia’s answer to the Easter Bunny and their tasty chocolate likenesses can be found in stores at Easter time. This was an attempt to boost their popularity and help get support for their survival.

Also making them special is the fact that, generally speaking, Bilbies don’t drink. Water is not crucial to their diet as they are able to obtain enough moisture from their food. This is what makes their survival in arid regions so successful.

What do they eat?
Bilbies emerge after dark to look for food. They will feed on a range of foods including insects (especially termites) and their larvae, seeds and fungi, bulbs and fruit.

How do they reproduce?
The breeding season is usually between March and May. Pregnancy lasts 14 days and females can produce two babies four times a year. Female Bilbies are able to reproduce when they reach five months of age. After birth, the baby Bilby will attach itself to one of the eight teats in the pouch and stay there for around 12 weeks. After this, the mother begins feeding it with more solid food she catches for another 2 weeks and then it is on its own.

What else do I need to know?
Greater Bilbies are nocturnal marsupials. They have long, silky blue-grey fur and long pinkish ears. The body is compact, featuring a pointed snout with a long tongue and a long black and white tail. The strong forelimbs have long claws that assist in digging burrows and uncovering buried food. Female Bilbies have backward facing pouches like koalas and wombats so that dirt does not enter the pouch while they‘re digging. Males are larger than females. The body length of males is up to 55 centimetres and females up to 39 centimetres.

Where do they fit in the tree of life?
Species: lagotis
Genus: Macrotis
Family: Thylacomyidae
Order: Peramelemorphia
Subclass: Marsupialia
Class: Mammalia
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Phylum: Chordata
Kingdom: Animalia

What is their conservation status?
The Greater Bilby has an IUCN listing of Vulnerable.
In Australia, the Greater Bilby is Extinct in NSW, Endangered in Qld, and Vulnerable in NT, SA and WA.


  • Title: Greater Bilby
  • Creator: Howard Hughes
  • Publisher: Australian Museum

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