Skip to main content

Beyond the Swamp and Dunes: A Sanctuary for Threatened Wildlife

Look closer! The seemingly ordinary scene where swamp meets sand dunes at the Painkalac Estuary conceals a remarkable secret. This critical habitat provides a safe haven for a surprising cast of characters – threatened marsupials, rodents, and birds protected under the EPBC Act.

Read on to discover the fascinating creatures that call this unique ecosystem home.

Swamp Antechinus (threatened species)

Swamp Antechinus

Swamp Antechinus

The Swamp Antechinus Antechinus minimus is a small carnivorous marsupial that eats invertebrates dug from the topsoil and litter and lives in dry grass nests in shallow burrows.

Swamp Antechinus habitat is typically wet heath, heathy woodland, sedgeland and dense tussock grassland with a high percentage of understorey cover. Mating occurs during May – July. Females give birth July-August. Males die within a few weeks after mating.

Southern Brown Bandicoot (threatened species)

Southern Brown Bandicoot

Southern Brown Bandicoot (Photo by John O’Neill)

The Southern Brown Bandicoot Isoodon obesulus is a medium sized ground dwelling marsupial with a long tapering snout, a naked nose, a compact body and a short tail. The pouch in females opens to the rear, and contains eight teats arranged in a partial circle.

By day, the Southern Brown Bandicoot sleeps in a nest made from grasses and other plant material, and at night emerges to feed on a variety of insects, earthworms, fungi, fruits and other plants, often digging distinctive cone-shaped holes.

Broad-toothed Rat (threatened species)

Broad-toothed Rat

Broad-toothed Rat (Photo by David Paul CC BY)

The Broad-toothed Rat Mastacomys fuscus is a terrestrial (non-climbing) and mostly nocturnal rodent which as its name implies, has wide incisors and molar teeth.

The Broad-toothed Rat is a specialist herbivore which feeds on the stem, leaves and seeds of sedges and grasses and especially likes eating grasses in the Poa genus. It’s poo, or scat is a very distinctive vivid green making it unmistakable and it can pump put up to 400 scat pellets a day! Click here to view the colour of the scat!

Swamp Rat

Swamp Rat

Swamp Rat (Photo by David Paul CC BY)

The Swamp Rat Rattus lutreolus grows to have a body length of approximately 160 millimetres with a tail length of approximately 110 mm.

The rats will form tunnels through the vegetation through which they can move. Their diet is predominately vegetarian; consisting of reeds, seeds, and swamp grass stems but eats insects and fungi in summer.

Swamp Rats are close relatives of the Bush Rat. Both are native to Australia where they have been present for about 1 million years.

Long-nosed Bandicoot

Long-nosed Bandicoot

Long-nosed Bandicoot (Photo by JJ Harrison CC BY)

The long-nosed bandicoot Perameles nasuta, a marsupial around 40 centimetres long, is sandy- or grey-brown with a long snouty nose. Omnivorous, it forages for invertebrates, fungi and plants at night. The Long-nosed Bandicoot has a high-pitched squeak when disturbed

Long-nosed bandicoots spend much of their time digging, and often leave characteristic conical holes in the ground where they have foraged looking for grubs in the soil.

Bush Rat

Bush Rat

Bush Rat (Photo by JJ Harrison CC BY)

The best way to tell the difference between a native Bush Rat Rattus fuscipes and an introduced Black Rat Rattus rattus is to have a look at the tail and the body length. Native Bush Rats have a tail shorter than their body length and round ears. Introduced rats have a tail longer than their body length with little hair on their tails. Bush Rats are rarely seen climbing so if you see a rat climbing then it is more likely to be a Black Rat.

Bush Rats are rarely seen due to dense habitat in which they live, and their shy and solitary nature. They are nocturnal and shelter during the day in short burrows or grass-lined nests under logs or rocks.

Rufous Bristlebird (threatened species)

Rufous Bristlebird

Rufous Bristlebird (photo by Ron Knight CC BY)

The Rufous Bristlebird is a small ground-dwelling bird which can be observed running or flying short distances whilst darting in and out of moderately dense understory in which it shelters and feeds.

The Surf Coast is one of the last places in the world you will be able to find the rare and threatened Rufous Bristlebird and we are very lucky to have this gorgeous little creature call our coast home!

The Rufous Bristlebird Dasyornis broadbenti predominately feeds off seeds and small ground-dwelling invertebrates. Usually, they search for food off the ground; however, they also forage amongst leaf litter or in short shrubs whilst collecting insects or grubs

Because they are ground-dwelling birds,  they are prone to predation by cats and foxes.

Listen to the song of the Rufous Bristlebird:

Continue on past the Aireys Inlet Reserve along Inlet Crescent to get to the next sign with a QR code on the William Buckley post on the right of the path (number 5 on the map).

Map of nature walk with interpretive signs marked by numbers

Map of nature walk with interpretive signs marked by numbers