lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

N is for Numbat

This engaging little creature, photographed by S J Bennett, is a numbat!

S J Bennett numbat

Numbats are little marsupials that now only live in a few small colonies in Australia.

They are unique – one of only a few marsupials that do not have a pouch – the 4 baby numbats, when born, make their way to the teats on the mother numbat’s belly and cling on, protected by her long hair and the swelling of surrounding tissues.

They are also unique in that they have an extra tooth – the only terrestrial mammal to have one, and because they are the only diurnal (awake during the day) mammal in Australia.

They are active during the day because of their termite diet. They do not have the very strong muscles and claws of other ant and termite-eating mammals in other countries such as anteaters, so they cannot destroy termite nests in the same way. They wait until the termites are active, find them by smell, and sight (they have the best eyesight of all the marsupials!) and dig in the loose earth to lick them up with their sticky tongues.

They are very busy finding termites all day – the numbat above is able to lie down as it is in Perth zoo!

They are extremely attractive animals, and they are becoming very rare – because they are daytime creatures and cannot hide, they suffer predation by other mammals such as non-endemic cats and red foxes. They also suffer from the clearing of land for agriculture, and not allowing Aboriginal fires to regenerate the land. These fires were small and controlled and suppressed the likelihood of larger fires – which now take hold and destroy large tracts of numbat territory.

Here is a more active numbat at Perth Zoo taken by Simon Forsyth – showing its lovely, tapered form, that allows its nose to dive into narrow spaces to get at termites. It also has tough skin over its behind which it uses to block the entrance to its burrow against predators.

Numbat simon forsyth

They are classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Here is my numbat poem, which is an acrostic.




None but the numbat’s

Up all day in woodland tracts,

Marsupial with long, thin tongue,

Burrows, digs and births four young,

A termite eating, numbers retreating

Tapered, red/white/black numbat.


© Liz Brownlee



And here is a very short clip showing a numbat’s sticky tongue in Perth Zoo!



If you would like to blog hop to another A-Z Challenge, please click on the logo in the right-hand column!


Information from:



Top image by S J Bennett on Flikr by Creative Commons License.

Bottom image is by Simon Forsyth on Flikr by Creative Commons License.

Prose and Poem © Liz Brownlee, all rights reserved, not to be used in any manner whatsoever without the permission of the author.



  1. That Longueuil tongue looks like a licorice:) it’s so bright! I love your poem and, once again, you hit the nail on the head. They are cute looking


    • Isn’t it gorgeous? A surprise, even though the numbat is so attractively marked. I expect those termites positively enjoy being swept up by such thing of beauty…


  2. It’s SO cute! What a great little video you included, too! Enjoying your take on A to Z! You came recommended by Antonia Malvino, too.


    • Thank you, I came your blog last year, I’ll be along soon!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t know if you’d remember! 🙂 Somehow I missed actually following you last year, so that’s fixed now. So glad you’re doing A to Z again.

        Liked by 1 person

      • 🙂


  3. I’m enjoying your posts so much, Liz… same wavelength and all that. Someone suggested Numbat for my N post… sadly I haven’t seen one of these wonderful creatures and my wildlife encounters are strictly based on animals I’ve genuinely seen, but I’m delighted you chose it for today’s post.

    Susan A Eames from
    Travel, Fiction and Photos


    • Hi, Susan! Thank you. I SO want to go to Australia. They have such an amazing collection of animals. Well, there or Madagascar. Hmm, actually, the Phillipines or Costa Rica would be pretty good, too…


  4. Thea OBrian

    The first thing I thought when I saw your title was, I have never heard of a bat called that. Oh my! Your posts are always so educational and interesting.


    • Gosh, that is what I’m aiming for, interesting, I’m very pleased!


  5. I’ve heard of wombats but these creatures are new to me. Those poor little babies, hanging on by their teeth – or should I be more sorry for their mum?


    • I think they are very small indeed when they do that – remember that marsupial babes are tiny, just a few millimetres when they are born – after that, I expect they can hold on.


  6. Very interesting information. I’m learning a lot.


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