The Sand Band Trap

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Greater Bilby Macrotis lagotis

For Around the World in 50 Weeks we remain in the Southern hemisphere, but head across the oceans to an endangered species on that huge island, Australia. The Bilby is a marsupial, indigenous to this part of the world. This is a possible beginning to a story about these cute animals and how they outwitted one of their predators.

Target age: 5-8

The Sand Band Trap

In dozens of burrows that spiral the hill

a Bilby group lived in this maze.

The troubles began with the feral cat clan –

This tale recounts the next days.


Gerry Feral arrived with a cohort of cats

staking claim to this desert abode,

Bilbies, who’d been on a seed-searching trip

weren’t ready for cat-attack mode.


The Bilbies, battered and scattered abroad,

re-gathered  as dawn lit the land.

In a secret hole they met to console,

each other, and plan a Sand Band.


The Sand Band trick was tested and true,

but hadn’t been practiced in years.

It required some lies and a clever disguise,

and marsupial song volunteers…………………..

Copyright 2012 Joanna Marple                                                                                              



  • The Bilby is the largest member of the family of marsupials called bandicoots.
  • The Bilby has a long pointed nose, huge ears and a black tail with a white crest.
  • The large ears of the Bilby are almost hairless and provide great hearing,
  • The long snout, which is pink and hairless at the tip, gives the Bilby an excellent       sense of smell.
  •  Bilbies live in spiralling burrows which they dig up to 2 metres deep. A Bilby may have up to a dozen burrows.
  • Bilbies are truly nocturnal.
  • The Bilby has a cantering gait and the tail is often carried upright like a banner.
  • Bilbies are omnivorous. They eat such things as seeds, spiders, insects and their larvae, bulbs, fruit, fungi and small animals.
  • Bilbies are mostly solitary, but sometimes live in small groups of up to four or five.

Before European settlement, Bilbies were distributed over approximately 70% of the Australian mainland.

Presently Bilbies can be found in a small area in SW Queensland and in isolated colonies spread across parts of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Because Bilby colonies are so isolated, each colony is vulnerable to disease and inbreeding. Bilbies are listed as Vulnerable in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, Endangered in Queensland, and Extinct in the other mainland states.

Major reasons for the decline in Bilby population and distribution are:

o Loss of habitat.

o Hunting and trapping. In the late 18th century Bilbies were hunted for their skins resulting in a big reduction in their population. Many Bilbies were killed by traps and poison baits intended for rabbits.

o Competition from introduced species. The grazing of cattle, sheep and rabbits reduces native vegetation cover and prevents natural revegetation.

o Predation from introduced species. Foxes and feral cats prey on Bilbies.

 Facts and figures from the Australian Bilby Appreciation Society

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16 Responses to The Sand Band Trap

  1. I want to know how the story ends! Finish it! Publish it! I want a copy!

    I hope when you do publish your stories about animals that they will include back matter with the sort of information you’ve given us in this post. I have learned so much in the last few minutes. Thank you.

  2. I love the poem you wrote on the Bilby group. It is informative and fun. Would like to know how it ends. I like all of the information that you give about this endangered species. They are so cute. I was surprised to see their population limited to such a small area. I enjoyed getting to know more about them.

  3. Joanna says:

    Pat, I am glad you liked the first few verses of this story. They covered 3/4 of Australia before their population started to dwindle. 🙁

  4. Heather says:

    Fascinating! They look like a mix of rabbit, kangaroo, and rat. It’s so sad to think about what humans have done in their ignorance of the natural world. Your poem is exciting-I want to know what happens to the Bilbies!

    • Joanna says:

      Heather, they are a funny little creature, aren’t they? I like their huge ears and long nose! Yes we have done much damage i ignorance and sadly much conscious damage too. 🙁

  5. Hannah Holt says:

    Yes, you have to tell us more about the Sand Band trick! Thanks so much for this information about the Bilby. They are new to me.

    • Joanna says:

      Hannah, I cam across the Bilby last year when I was doing some research and decided I wanted to write a story about them;

  6. I love this! Your blog is not only fun but educational! I have never heard of a Bilby or seen one either (obviously!) What a cute little creature. And I love your story as well! You are brilliant!

  7. Joanna says:

    Thanks Leigh! I sure aim to be both fun and educational. 🙂

  8. Love your story! And the info is so interesting! I’ve never even heard of a Bilby before and now I’m worried about their plight! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Joanna says:

    Isn’ it fun to discover new (to us) animals? I do promise that my story, at least, has a happy ending!

  10. If only pictures books had 50 pages, then you could do a page for each of your weeks. Its pointy nose attracts me and freaks me out at the same time. Of course, those cute ears just distract me from the nose.

  11. Hi Joanna, I could understand why that photo was such an effective poetry prompt. Look at those beautiful perky ears and black button eyes. The information here would likewise be useful for teachers! Great marriage of science and verse indeed. 🙂

  12. Pingback: Groovin’ Those First 6 Months in 12×12-in-12 | Miss Marple's Musings

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