Should I offer backyard quenda (bandicoots) food?
Human food is not natural for quenda and can make them sick. Quenda naturally eat plant tubers, bugs and fungi. Eating other foods can cause life threatening illnesses and obesity. Quenda are relatively small compared to humans, and even small portions of human food can be very unhealthy for them.
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Offering backyard quenda food is not recommended.
If you choose to do this you should offer food in ways that minimises the risk of harm:
- Completely avoid unhealthy (and potentially life-threatening) foodstuffs such as bread, cakes and biscuits, raw meat and cooked bones.
- Raw meat can give them parasites such as Toxoplasma gondii.
- Cooked bones do not digest properly.
- Offer very small portions of safer foods, and not everyday.
- Mealworms are the safest option for quenda, as they most closely resemble one of their main natural food sources.
- Provide small quantities such as one mealworm per quenda every third day.
- Offer food at varying locations, amongst dense vegetation to help quenda escape from predators such as cats and foxes.
Feeding quenda at consistent location every day may result in predators recognising the location as a quenda “aggregation point”. Predators can use such knowledge to hunt quenda more effectively. Additionally, “aggregation points” can become heavily contaminated with quenda faeces, and may cause outbreaks of infections which can make quenda sick.
What can I do instead to help quenda living in my garden?
There are plenty of things you can do to assist quenda living in your garden, to encourage their presence without the risk of causing them harm.
- Ensure they are safe from pets on your property.
- Keep cats indoors, or confined to outdoor enclosures.
- Provide a “dog free” area of your garden into which quenda can escape. Use ring-lock fencing to separate parts of the yard with dense vegetation, as a refuge for quenda.
- Plant plenty of low lying, dense vegetation around your garden to provide shelter and assist their natural food sources.
- Avoid using poisons such as snail bait and rat bait – both of which can be fatal to quenda.
- If using snail baits, use iron EDTA (this may still make quenda sick, but is less likely to cause death).
- If using bait, place it in areas at least 1m off the ground that are not accessible to quenda.
- Use cages for the bait that allow access to snails but not quenda.
- “Wildlife proof” ponds and pools.
- Use pool covers.
- Ensure there is an escape route if a quenda falls in – e.g. bricks placed on the top step of a pool, or a sturdy stack of bricks onto which a quenda can climb to get out of a pond.
- Do not remove quenda from your property and release them elsewhere. This is illegal (Wildlife Conservation Act, 1950). Few quenda survive after being moved in this way.
Download the ‘Feeding quenda’ information sheet.
1Nagy, K.A., Girard, I.A., Brown, T.K. 1999. Energetics of free-ranging mammals, reptiles and birds. Ann. Rev. Nutr. 19: 247-277