numbat nŭm´băt [key], small marsupial, of SW Australia, also known as the marsupial anteater. The numbat, Myrmecobius fasciatus, resembles a squirrel in size and general appearance, but is adapted for eating insects, with a pointed snout and a long, cylindrical tongue covered with a sticky secretion. The body is brown with white transverse stripes and the tail is bushy. The numbat lives in eucalyptus forests and feeds chiefly on termites, which it finds in fallen branches and under litter. It sleeps by night in a den in a hollow log. Like other marsupials, numbats give birth to very undeveloped young, which crawl to the mother's teats and remain attached to them for several months; unlike most marsupials, however, numbats do not have pouches surrounding the teats. Numbats are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Marsupialia, family Dasyuridae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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