bandicoot, small marsupial mammal native to Australia and nearby islands. There are 19 species in eight genera. Bandicoots have long, pointed, shrewlike faces; gray or brown fur; and long, bushy, ratlike tails. They range in size from that of a rat to that of a rabbit. Their feet are equipped with sharp claws, used for digging food; they feed nocturnally on insects, worms, roots, and vegetables dug from the ground. The second and third toes of the hind legs are bound together and the paired claws are used as a comb for grooming the fur. Bandicoots are able to hop about like rabbits on their strong hind legs, but they also commonly creep on all fours. Bandicoots are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, order Marsupialia, family Peramelidae.