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Your morning adorable: What has giant ears, a long tail and a big, whiskery snout? 10 points if you guessed the bilby

September 18, 2009 | 11:46 am

The bilby, an Australian marsupial

The bilby, an endangered relative of the bandicoot that's native to Australia, is one of the most adorable species you may never have heard of. (Like bandicoots, bilbies are known for their long, ratlike snouts -- in fact, the word "bilby" translates to "long-nose rat" in Yuwaalaraay, an Aboriginal language of Australia.)

As one might imagine after a quick glance at their oversized ears, bilbies have excellent hearing. They also have nice, big claws perfect for digging, which they do to not only find food but also make the burrows in which they spend a good deal of their time. These marsupials are so well-suited to digging, in fact, that females' pouches face backward so they won't throw dirt into them while foraging or burrowing.  

Some Australians are endeavoring to help the small-bodied, big-eared nocturnal creatures make a comeback with a strange, holiday-themed campaign: Easter bilbies. Because rabbits are viewed as competition for bilbies in the wild, bilby fans selling items such as Easter bilby cards, coffee mugs and T-shirts encourage shoppers to "forget the bunny and give an Easter bilby gift."

More bilby photos after the jump!

The bilby, an Australian marsupial

The bilby, an Australian marsupial

The bilby, an Australian marsupial

The bilby, an Australian marsupial

-- Lindsay Barnett

Credits: First, third and fourth photos, Rob Griffith / Associated Press; second and fifth photos, Greg Wood / AFP/Getty Images.

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