Macrotis leucura leucura Thomas, 1887:397

Lesser bilby, Lesser rabbit-eared bandicoot, White-tailed rabbit-eared bandicoot, White-tailed rabbit bandicoot, Yallara, Djoonpi



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Peregale leucura Thomas, 1887:397 (original combination); Peragale leucura Thomas, 1887:397; Thalacomys leucura Thomas, 1887:397; Thylacomys leucurus Thomas, 1887:397 (used by Anonymous, 1964); Peragale minor Spencer, 1897:6; Macrotis minor Spencer, 1897:6; Thalacomys minor Spencer, 1897:6; Thalacomys minor miselius Finlayson, 1932; miseliae Tate, 1948


Conservation Status


Last record: 1931 (Johnson, 2008; Fisher & Blomberg, 2012; Lee et al., 2017); c.1968 (according to aborigines at Clutterbuck Hills)

IUCN RedList status: Extinct


Ironically this species was last seen by Europeans in 1931 when it was still considered to be locally common by Finlayson. But a generally accepted anecdote states that a skull was found at the base of a Wedge-tailed eagle's (Aquila audax) nest by P. Hanisch in January 1967 (Parker, 1973:12), and subsequently estimated to be less than 15 years old given the skull's good condition. This would set the minimum extinction date as 1952 or later, and is consistent with reports from the local aboriginal tribes that it only became extinct sometime during or after the 1960's (Burbidge et. al. 1988).



Northern Territory, South Australia & Western Australia, Australia


Biology & Ecology




MCZ 33873 (skin; female)

MCZ 33874 (skull; female)






Original scientific description:

Thomas, Oldfield. (1887). Description of a second species of rabbit-bandicoot (Peragale). Annals and Magazine of Natural History, ser. 5, 19: 397-399.


Other references:

Abbott, I. 2002. Origin and spread of the cat, Felis catus, on mainland Australia, with a discussion on the magnitude of its early impact on native fauna. Wildlife Research 29: 51-74.

Aitken, P. (1979). The status of endangered Australian wombats, bandicoots and the marsupial mole, pp. ?-?. In: Tyler, Michael J. (ed.). The Status of Endangered Australasian Wildlife. Adelaide: Royal Zoological Society of South Australia.

Anonymous. (1964). A preliminary list of rare mammals including those believed to be rare but concerning which detailed information is still lacking. IUCN Bulletin 11(Special Supplement): 4 pp.

Archer, Michael and Kirsch, J. A. W. (1977). The case for the Thylacomyidae and Myrmecobiidae Gill , 1872, or why are marsupial families so extended? Proc. Linnean Soc. New South Wales 102: 18-25.

Burbidge, A., Johnson, K. & Dickman, C. (2008). Macrotis leucura. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. ( Downloaded on 11 September 2011.

Andrew A. Burbidge; Ken A. Johnson; Phillip J. Fuller, and R. I. Southgate. (1988). Aboriginal Knowledge of the Mammals of the Central Deserts of Australia. Aust. Wildl. Res. 15: 9-39.

Burbidge, Andrew A. and McKenzie, Norman L. (1989). Patterns in the modern decline of western Australia's vertebrate fauna: Causes and conservation implications. Biological Conservation 50(1-4): 143-198.

Dickman, C.R. 1996. Overview of the impacts of feral cats on Australian native fauna. Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Canberra.

Dixon, Joan M. (1988). Notes on the diet of three mammals presumed to be extinct: the Pig-footed Bandicoot, the Lesser Bilby and the Desert Rat Kangaroo. Victorian Naturalist 105: 208-211.

Finlayson, Hedley Herbert. (1932). Preliminary description of two new mammals from South Australia. Trans. R. Soc. S. Aust. 56: 168-171.

Finlayson, Hedley Herbert. (1935). On the Mammals from the Lake Eyre Basin. Part II. The Peramelidae. Trans. R. Soc. S. Aust. 59: 227-236.

Finlayson, Hedley Herbert. (1961). On central Australian mammals. Part IV. The distribution and status of central Australian species. Records of the South Australian Museum 14: 141-191.

Fisher, Diana O. and Blomberg, Simon P. (2012). Inferring Extinction of Mammals from Sighting Records, Threats, and Biological Traits. Conservation Biology 26(1): 57-67.

Flannery, T. and Schouten, P. 2001. A gap in nature: discovering the world’s extinct animals. Text Publishing, Melbourne.

Goodwin, Harry A. and Goodwin, J. M. (1973). List of mammals which have become extinct or are possibly extinct since 1600. Int. Union Conserv. Nat. Occas. Pap. 8: 1-20.

Hoser, Raymond T. (1991). Endangered Animals of Australia. Mosman, NSW: Pierson & Co. 240 pp. [pp. 200]

How, R. A., Cooper, N. K. and Bannister, J. L. (2001). Checklist of the mammals of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement No. 63: 91-98.

Hudon, Daniel. (2014). Eulogies for Lost Species. Clarion 17: 59-63.

Iredale, Tom and Troughton, Ellis Le Geyt. (1934). A check-list of the mammals recorded from Australia. Mem. Aust. Mus. 6: i-xii, 1-122.

Jackson, Stephen and Groves, Colin. (2015). Taxonomy of Australian Mammals. Clayton South, Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing. 529 pp. [p. 91-92]

Johnson, C. 2006 Australia's mammal extinctions: a 50 000 year history. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Johnson, K. A. (1983). Lesser Bilby Macrotis leucura. p. 109. In: Strahan, Ronald (ed.). The Australian Museum Complete Book of Australian Mammals. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.

Johnson, K. A. 1989. Thylacomyidae. In: D. W. Walton and B. J. Richardson (eds), Fauna of Australia: Volume 1B Mammalia, pp. 625 - 635. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

Johnson, K. A. (1995). Lesser Bilby, Macrotis leucura, pp. 189-190. In: Strahan, Ronald (ed.). The Mammals of Australia. Chatswood, N.S.W.: Reed Books. 756 pp.

Johnson, K. A. (1998). Lesser Bilby Macrotis leucura. pp. 189-190 In: Strahan, R. (ed.) The mammals of Australia. Second Edition. Sydney: Reed New Holland.

Johnson, K. A. (2008). Lesser Bilby, Macrotis leucura. pp. 194-195 In: Van Dyck, S. And Strahan, R. (eds.) The mammals of Australia. Third edition. Sydney: Reed New Holland.

Johnson, K.A. & Southgate, R.I. 1990. Present and former status of bandicoots in the Northern Territory. Pp. 85-92 In: Seebeck, J.H.., Brown, P.R., Wallis,R.L. & Kemper, C.M. Bandicoots and bilbies. Sydney: Surrey Beatty & Sons.

Jones, Frederic Wood. (1923). The marsupial genus Thylacomys. A review of the rabbit-bandicoots, with a description of a new species. Records of the South Australian Museum 2: 333-352.

Kinnear, J., Sumner, N.R. and Onus, M.L. 2002. The red fox in Australia—an exotic predator turned biocontrol agent. Biological Conservation 108: 335-359.

Lee, T. E., Fisher, D. O., Blomberg, S. P. and Wintle, B. A. (2017). Extinct or still out there? Disentangling influences on extinction and rediscovery helps to clarify the fate of species on the edge. Global Change Biology 23(2): 621-634.

Low, Tim and Booth, Carol. (2023). GONE: Australian animals extinct since the 1960s. Invasive Species Council Inc.

Lucas, Arthur Henry Shakespeare and Le Souëf, William Henry Dudley. (1909). The Animals of Australia: Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians. Melbourne: Whitcombe and Tombs.

Maxwell, S., Burbidge, A.A. and Morris, K. 1996. The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes. Australasian Marsupial and Monotreme Specialist Group, IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland, Switzerland.

Newsome, A. E. (1962). Rabbit-eared Bandicoots or Bilbies. Australian Natural History 14(3): 97-98.

Parker, Shane A. (1973). An annotated checklist of the native land mammals of the Northern Territory. Records of the South Australian Museum 16(11): 1-57.

Pettigrew, Jack. (2011). Iconography in Bradshaw rock art: breaking the circularity. Clinical and Experimental Optometry 94(5): 403-417.

Philpott, C. M. and Smyth, D. R. (1967). A contribution to our knowledge of some rare mammals from inland Australia. Transactions of The Royal Society of South Australia 91: 115-134. [failed to find this species during 24 weeks of field work in "northern South Australia and adjoining areas"]

Ride, W. D. L. (1970). A Guide to the Native Mammals of Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Scott, Peter (ed.). (1965). Preliminary List of Rare Mammals and Birds, pp. 155-237. In: The Launching of a New Ark. First Report of the President and Trustees of the World Wildlife Fund. An International Foundation for saving the world's wildlife and wild places 1961-1964. London: Collins.

Spencer, Baldwin. (1897). Description of two new species of marsupials from Central Australia. Proc. R. Soc. Vict. 9: 5-11.

Tate, George Henry Hamilton. (1948). Results of the Archbold Expeditions. No. 60. Studies in the Peramelidae (Marsupialia). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 92(6): 313-346, text figure 1, tables 1-10.

Thornback, Jane and Jenkins, Martin (compilers). (1982). The IUCN Mammal Red Data Book. Part 1: Threatened Mammalian Taxa of the Americas and the Australasian Zoogeographic Region (Excluding Cetacea). Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. 516 pp.

Troughton, Ellis Le Geyt. (1932). A revision of the rabbit-bandicoots. Family Peramelidae, genus Macrotis. Aust. Zool. 7: 219-236.

Troughton, Ellis Le Geyt. (1941). Furred Animals of Australia. Sydney: Angus and Robertson Ltd.

Troughton, Ellis Le Geyt. (1950). Bandicoots: rare and otherwise. Part 2. The Australian Museum Magazine 10(4): 113-117.

Troughton, Ellis Le Geyt. (1965). Furred Animals of Australia (8th edition). Sydney: Angus & Robertson.

Vernes, Karl, Elliott, Todd F. and Jackson, Stephen M. (2021). 150 years of mammal extinction and invasion at Koonchera Dune in the Lake Eyre Basin of South Australia. Biological Invasions 23: 593-610. [Abstract]

Wilson, D. E. and Reeder, D. M. (2005). Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Third edition. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.

Woinarski, John C. Z., Braby, M. F., Burbidge, A. A., Coates, D., Garnett, S. T., Fensham, R. J., Legge, S. M., McKenzie, N. L., Silcock, J L. and Murphy, B. P. (2019). Reading the black book: The number, timing, distribution and causes of listed extinctions in Australia. Biological Conservation 239: 108261.

Woinarski, John C. Z., Burbidge, Alan A. and Harrison, P. (2014). The Action Plan for Australian Mammals 2012. Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing. [report of M. lagotis near Hanging Rock, WA, c. January 1982 may refer to this species?]


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