Baby bilby makes rare appearance

A young Greater bilby has been captured on a remote camera in the Venus Bay Conservation Park, to the delight of Natural Resources officers.

Two motion sensor cameras captured photos of the bilby beside its mother, giving hope that the Greater bilby (Macrotis lagotis) re-introduced behind the predator-proof fence is doing well despite dry conditions.

Senior Natural Resources officer Liz McTaggart said it was exciting to see the image of the baby bilby among hundreds of other digital photos.

"Young bilbies haven't been captured on remote sensing cameras at Venus Bay Conservation Park before, even though we know they are out there in low but persisting numbers," she said.

"The population here is starting to show itself to be a resilient community and we have some evidence of this from the cameras.

"In our most isolated locations remote sensing cameras are detecting bilbies and reintroduced Brush-tailed bettongs as well as feral cats using the same locations, and sometimes only minutes apart."

Bilbies and bettongs are highly vulnerable to being preyed on by feral cats and foxes.

Natural Resources officer Libby Hunt said the young bilby, known as a joey, was likely to be three to four months old.

"We know on average newborn bilby joeys, known as neonates, are around the size of a bean and they stay suckling on a teat and growing in the safety of the bilby mother's backwards facing pouch," she said.

They emerge from the pouch at age 11 to 12 weeks, before being weaned off their mother a couple of weeks later.

"Surviving to the adult breeding age of six months is still a massive accomplishment for a bilby joey," said Ms Hunt.

"Joey's have to successfully learn to identify and avoid being sighted or captured by predators, such as feral cats, foxes and owls.

"They also have to learn how to search for food, digging and foraging for small insects, larvae, seeds, spiders, bulbs, fruits and fungi in order to survive."

The Venus Bay Conservation Park has ongoing measures to manage feral cats, including the predator-proofed fencing area, feral cat and fox control outside the fence, fence maintenance and rabbit control to relieve pressure on ground feed.