Hop into Cleland Wildlife Park to meet a bilby

Cleland’s bilby trail brings you face-to-face with the Aussie Easter icon. Here’s what you need to know about them.

The Greater Bilby – also known as Macrotis lagotis – is considered the Australian Easter mascot thanks to its large rabbit-like ears.

They are classified as a vulnerable species in Australia but are making a recovery, with some of them calling Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills home.

Beyond the long ears

As well as distinctive long ears, bilbies are characterised by silky fur and a long well-furred tail with a tuft on the end.

They are well adapted to arid climates where free surface water is rarely available. They derive most of their water from food, such as insects and their larva, seeds, bulbs, fruit and fungi.

Bilbies are strictly a nocturnal species. Being powerful burrowers, they construct deep burrows that may measure up to 3 meters long and 1.8 m deep, and this is where they will stay during the daylight hours.

Cleland Wildlife Park provides an unusual opportunity to see these curious critters during the day.

Get on board the bilby trail

This Easter long weekend and throughout the school holidays, Cleland Wildlife Park has a self-guided bilby trail where you can learn more about our Australian tall-eared treasure, as well as other native species.

The interactive trail is designed for families with 6 to 12-year-olds but is open to anyone. It opens at 9.30 am when the park opens, and takes about 45 minutes to complete. The trail is included in the park entry fee, which gives you access to things like daily keeper talks and feeding experiences.

Families completing the bilby trail program will receive a small prize if they return their pencil to the ticketing desk at the end of the bilby adventure.

Why not make a day of it? The on-site café is open all weekend for coffee or lunch, so there’s no need to rush off.

Bilbies breeding in South Australia

Bilbies are a vulnerable species in South Australia and captive breeding and release programs support their survival. As well as Cleland-bred bilbies, SA has a thriving colony reintroduced to Venus Bay Conservation Park on the Eyre Peninsula.

Males are larger than females in both size and weight. In captivity, bilbies breed throughout the year. Their backward opening pouch contains eight teats but is usually home to no more than two baby bilbies, which stay in the pouch for about 80 days.

How can you help?

If you’re buying chocolate for Easter, keep an eye out for the South Australian brands that give funds to support keeping bilby habitats free from feral species. Since the 1990s, chocolate bilbies have become Australia’s Easter chocolate of choice.

You can also help spread awareness of bilbies by learning more on the Cleland bilby trail and sharing what you learn with your friends and family. 

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