Top 9 finalists for Australian Mammal of the Year… who will you vote for?

Voting for the Top 9 is now closed! We’ll be back in two hours with the result and to open voting for final 8.

It was a close match between our two bandicoots right until the final minutes of voting for the Top 10! Unfortunately for the southern brown bandicoot, the eastern barred has just managed to beat it out to stay in the running for Mammal of the Year – by a minuscule seven vote difference.

Now you’ve got just 22 hours to vote for your favourite in the Top 9, after which we’ll remove the lowest-rated mammal, clear the tallies and start again at the same time tomorrow. Get behind our mammals and give them a shoutout to your friends to get them into the next rounds.

RIP to the southern brown bandicoot

Name: Southern brown bandicoot, or short-nosed bandicoot (Isoodon obselulus). Indigenous names include bung (Woiwurrung) and marti (Kaurna).

Group: Burrowers

Size: Length 30–33 cmfemales up to ~1.2 kg and males can be up to ~1.9kg.

Diet: Omnivore.

Habitat/range: In their now limited distribution area across southern Australia,southern brown bandicoots inhabit a range of habitats including open forest, scrub, and heathland, particularly places where shrubs (including some invasive plants such as blackberry) or rushes (e.g. Lomandra) provide extensive ground cover.

Conservation status: There are five formally recognised subspecies of I. obesulus, each with geographically distinct distribution: I. obesulus obesulus (is found in NSW, Vic. and SA; it’s listed as endangeredunder the EPBC Act.); I. o. nauticus (islands in Nuyts Island Archipelago Conservation Park, SA; listed as vulnerable under the EPBC Act); I. o. peninsulae (Cape York Peninsula, Qld); I. o. affinus (throughout Tasmania and Bruny, Maria and Bass Strait islands, Tas.); and I. o. fusciventer (south-west WA).

Superpower: Like many of their bandicoot kin, they’re super gardeners, digging in search of their invertebrate prey and other desired tasty treats such as fungi and plant roots. Like other bandicoot species their enthusiastic digging assists plant distribution and growth and soil health.

Southern brown bandicoot, mammal
Sleek customer: southern brown bandicoot. Credit: Hayley Davis

No doubt about it: bandicoots as a group pass the cute test by a marsupial mile, and southern browns are no exception. These ground dwellers are neat and compact with shortish tails (about a third of body length), small, rounded ears and bright black eyes. Their handsome tapering snouts are perfectly finished with naked noses.

When they were more common across their range – and there’s been much decline over the past decade or so – they were either loved or hated by suburban gardeners. Those in favour knew bandicoots as a gardener’s best friend. Those against were driven crazy by the distinctive conical holes that bandicoot foraging left in their lawns. The truth is that nocturnal bandicoot foraging likely did nothing but good for human gardens, and especially lawns. In the act of taking a tasty meal from soil-dwelling invertebrates such as earthworms, crickets, spiders, beetles and others, bandicoots got rid of some destructive insects and helped aerate the lawn for improved growth.

But these entrancing animals are shockingly susceptible to predation by introduced mammals, especially foxes and cats. The absence of foxes from Tasmania is one reason, it’s believed, that bandicoot populations remain fairly strong there. Other threats to the species include land clearing and habitat fragmentation and fires.

In no particular order, here are our Top 9!

Northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus)

In a truly tight race between the Delightful Dasyurids, the northern quoll just managed to pull ahead of the runner up (the eastern quoll) by just 41 votes.

Rakali or Australian water rat (Hydromys chrysogaster)

The wondrous water rat emerged victorious, and without tough competition from the rest of the Rollicking Rodents, carrying a healthy 32% of the votes across the finishing line.

Gilbert’s Potoroo (Potorous gilbertii)

This beautiful little fungus eater hopped to the top of the Marvellous Macropods and stayed there with a quarter of all the votes, pipping the Quokka at the post.

Dugong (Dugong dugon)

Surprising few, the darling dugong remained master of the Marine Mammals with 37% of the vote – well ahead of runner up the Australian fur seal with 13%.

Eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunnii)

Perhaps the most unexpected takeover of the entire competition, the eastern barred bandicoot secured number 1 position in the Beloved Burrowers category with a quarter of the support after unseating the previously unshakeable greater bilby (19%).  

Southern bent-wing bat (Miniopterus orianae bassanii)

An incredible surge of last-minute voting in the Brilliant Bats category saw a surprising switcheroo; the southern bent-wing bat swooping ahead of the spectacled flying-fox and into the Top 10 with 36% of the votes.

Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

The platypus also got a whole lot of love – swimming its way into the Top 10 as the next highest voted mammal across all of the categories other than the category winners.

Mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus)

This alpine darling might be hibernating, but that didn’t stop its ascent to the top of the Hello Possums category and into the running for Mammal of the Year.

Dingo (Canis dingo or Canis familiaris)

Australia’s charismatic but controversial native dog took out the top spot in the Rock Stars category in a landslide with a whopping 35% of the vote!

Think hard about your choice because you can only vote once per round!

How does voting work?

“But how does voting work?” you may ask. Don’t worry, it’s super simple.

Voting has now opened for the Top 9 (from 12:00pm AEST Tuesday 16 August) and will be open for 22 hours – closing tomorrow, Wednesday 17 August, at 10:00am AEST.

Then, at 12:00pm AEST we’ll announce the mammal that has received the least votes and has been booted out of the running.

We’ll set the tally back to zero and open up voting for the Top 8 anew.

Each day we’ll whittle away at the list of our most marvellous mammals until the last two left standing are announced on Tuesday 23 August.

With voting open for two days, we’ll finally put the debate to rest (for this year at least) and crown Australia’s Mammal of the Year on Thursday 25 August!

Vote for your pick in the Top 9 here:

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