Nothing worse than a drowned bandicoot in your pool

April 27, 2010 by
Filed under: Australian Mammals 
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An unwelcome surprise in your pool – a drowned native marsupial

Ever gone outside in the morning to admire your pool and found that there is something dead floating in the water? Unfortunately, lots of native wildlife drown each year in backyard swimming pools, not because they cannot swim, it is because they cannot get out and swim until they are exhausted and then drown.

Doug Beckers with drowned juvenile Northern Brown Bandicoot

Doug Beckers with a drowned juvenile long-nosed bandicoot

Northern Brown Bandicoot

A juvenile long-nosed bandicoot that drowned in a backyard swimming pool

I have heard stories of adult northern-brown bandicoots, long-nosed bandicoots, snakes falling into swimming pools and koalas fall into backyard swimming pools on the NSW coast and will drown in pools if they cannot get out.

Why can’t they get out?

Well most Australian wildlife can swim very well -check out the koala video below– even the Australian spiny anteater or echidna can swim really well but they cannot grip the edge of the pool sufficiently to pull themselves out.

Can echidnas swim?

An echidna swimming in a river south of Townsville. Courtesy of Ian Sutton

So, how do we prevent native animals from drowning in backyard pools?

Well I guess there are some really obvious things like preventing animals from gaining access to the pool in the first place. Easier said than done though as any anyone who owns a poll will tell you, and animal proofing a pool sometimes means aesthetically inappropriate fencing, which many pool owners will not consider.

One of the best inventions I have seen which can prevent pool drowning of wildlife is a product called the “Scamper-Ramp”. It is a ramp attached to the side of the pool designed to allow an animal to climb out of the pool.

Although the ramp is marketed mainly to the pet industry, according to the designer, he initially designed it to prevent the drowning of native wildlife in his own backyard.

I’d love to know of anyone has had experience with the use of this product or a similar one where it is being used to prevent wildlife drownings and equally I’d like to know if you have had experiences with wildlife drowning in your pool. Just post a comment below with your response.


I’ve had some great responses to this article, and Jon in Canada has made a terrific animal ramp. The article he wrote about it is well worth a read. Jon, time to go into production with your idea!

jon's ramp



29 Responses to “Nothing worse than a drowned bandicoot in your pool”
  1. ian hill says:

    We have been so disappointed by the loss of life in our pool. It’s an above ground pool sunk into the ground – which means the plastic edges overhang the lip by quite a bit.

    One day I came out and saw TWO quendas as big as cats drowned. Today the little one we had delighted to watch snuffling round our garden was also dead, drowned.

    It’s hard enough for them to survive the local cats – but its galling to be the cause of death yourself.

    The scamper ramp looks like a possible answer – I think I’ll need two to cope with the oval ends of our pool (the ends are not covered by the plastic cover are are usually where I find the bodies).


  2. Doug Beckers says:

    Ian, I totally understand your feelings. A friend of mine had 2 northern-brown bandicoots drown in his pool within a matter of a couple of days and he was really upset. He loves the native wildlife, after all that is why he moved to a semi-rural property.

    Hopefully the ramp may work for you, I would be interested to know the result so please keep in touch.

    You know, I had to look up “Quenda” I didn’t realise that the Quenda is a common term for the Southern-brown bandicoot in Western Australia. Where I live is the overlap zone between the northern and southern brown bandicoots which does cause me some identification difficulties.

    A southern-brown bandicoot courtesy of Pierre Pouliquin on Flickr

  3. Colin Kennedy says:

    Hi….I live in Pymble, in Sydney, and around 18 months ago a number of Long-nosed Bandicoots appeared in my back yard. They do tend to make a mess of the lawn but I love them anyway.
    Sadly I found two juveniles drowned in my in-ground pool in a number of days just recently.
    I’ve just ordered a scamper ramp and will let you know if it works, because I know there a number of other juveniles (and adults) still around.

  4. Doug Beckers says:

    Colin, I’d love to know how you go with the scamper ramp (I have seen them available at Pet Barns). I’m so pleased that you like the bandicoots, some people love them, others just hate them digging up their lawn. If only they realised how rare they have become and what interesting animals they really are.

  5. Ian Hill says:

    Well, I bought a skamper ramp last year but the bandicoots seem unable to climb it out of the pool. Two dead this week, and several a month or so back. SO SAD!

    I think their legs must be too short to get a purchase on the sloping ramp. Every one I’ve found ahs been floating next to the ramp.

    Today I decided to try letting the ramp float horizontal at water level rather than sloping upwards. Maybe they will be able to get on it and jump from water level to the edge – but I’m skeptical… I want to do something to stop this loss – don’t know what else to do.

    bright ideas anyone??

    • Doug Beckers says:

      Ian, Ive been thinking about why they cannot, or will not, climb onto the scamper ramp. I wonder if their small claws cannot get enough grip. Do you think it is possible to attach some shade cloth to the ramp and have it hang off the edge and end so they may get a better grip?

      • Jesse Blackadder says:

        Hi, I’ve been reading this with interest as we’ve just had two adult bandicoots drown in the pool and a juvenile drown in the fish pond all in a fortnight, after no problems for a year. Very upsetting. I want to give the Skamper Ramp a go (in the absence of other solutions). Did anyone try attaching shade cloth to give them a better grip? Would be interested to hear any further updates.

        • Doug Beckers says:

          Jesse, I reckon that the shade cloth is an excellent idea and should be give a go. Three bandicoots in a fortnight is quite distressing. Have you access to a wildlife camera, it would be interesting to see whether the ramp actually works and a motion activated wildlife camera would provide some interesting information about the way the ramps are used?

  6. Colin Kennedy says:

    I’ve had a Scamper Ramp in my pool now for over 18 months, and in that time I’ve had no further Bandicoot drownings. (Hope I haven’t jinxed myself by reporting this).

    It’s hard to tell whether it’s working because it may just be that no Bandicoots have fallen in the pool since I installed it, but early one morning recently a young Bandicoot was spooked by some Kookaburras and rushed straight into the pool. He swam around the edge to the Scamper Ramp, climbed up it and disappeared into the shrubbery… it seems they can get a grip on it

    Hope this helps

    Colin Kennedy

    • Doug Beckers says:

      That is excellent news Colin, well done on confirming the effectiveness of the scamper ramp. Hope you see a lot more bandicoots, because you live in Pymble, I wonder if your bandicoots are the endangered southern brown bandicoots. They could also be long-nosed bandicoots as they also occur in your area.

  7. Ros. says:

    Hi have the scamper ramp but found a dead bandicoot in the pool this morning. Any ideas on how to adjust it so it works for the bandicoots.

    • Doug Beckers says:

      Ros, that is very sad news. Does the ramp sit low in the water? I wonder if the bandicoots do not have the strength in their forearms to lift themselves up and need the ramp to be low in the water. I’d appreciate some feedback. maybe you could send me a photo as to how it looks in the pool now?

  8. zinni says:

    Has anyone tried the American Frog Log?

  9. Kat says:

    We found a dead juvenile bandicoot in our pool in Beacon Hill, Northern Beaches, November 2013. We’ll try putting some bricks or rocks on part of the steps to help them scamper out. We also bought a ‘pool animal escape ramp’ from ebay for $32.99, might be good for smaller creatures like frogs.

  10. Greg says:

    Frog logs are very helpful devices. Me and my wife use it for years and i even can’t imagine how many frogs were able to be free cause of this:-)

  11. Jon says:

    I am building my own escape solution with a rectangular plastic planter. I have cut the front away and am going to build an internal ramp. I think the problem with the other ramp that goes into the water is that it is wet, on a slope, and the animal is panicking. I think my solution will overcome that because the animal gets to safety first i.e. the bottom of the planet which is at water level, and then can take its time negotiating the ramp. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Jon says:

      I constructed this as I described and it works quite well.

      Mostly our issue here in Canada is mice and frogs, but we did have one chipmunk which finally pushed me to try building something. It was good that I did too, because not only has it cut down the casualties on the aforementioned species to (almost) none, but it also served to rescue a full grown racoon in the middle of the night as well.

      We woke to the sound of splashing a screeching. There were two adult racoons – one on the side running up and down and the other drowning. I was trying to find a quick solution to assist without getting clawed, and was going to try with a slatted deckchair, but the racoon got a purchase on my escape device first and managed to pull itself out. Interestingly it appeared that the one on the side was trying to draw it in that direction too, but that may have just been coincidence.

      We are under snow here now, but I’ll try to take post a picture of how I built it once we’re thawed out here.


  12. Glenn says:

    We’ve had three drown in the past month (two last night) and have just ordered three of the Skamper Ramps – will keep you updated with how it goes and if we make any modifications. So hard when you get to know the same bandicoots who eat at your window all the time!

  13. Scott says:

    Hi there.
    Installed a home made scamper ramp from a plastic mesh basket from woollies (cut down to form a ramp).
    Have had several small and baby water Dragons drown despite it being installed.
    Any ideas?

    • Doug Beckers says:

      I would have thought that the plastic mesh bags would have worked OK. Are you talking about the ones that oranges usually come in?
      I guess this may be an obvious question, but was one end of the ramp submerged?

  14. Tyler Pool says:

    Can we use pool covers to protect and prevent these animals from falling into the pool?

  15. Carilyn says:

    Hi after finding another dead bandicoot in the pool Ive scoured the internet for a solution.Ive tried the frog log and put eylets in in and tied it to the pool fence,and even though ive never seen a bandicoot use it i think it probably saved a few bit i think its not heavy duty enough, plus mine have all disintegrated in the sun.And all the options that you can buy are quite expensive..I found this link on youtube and thought it was a great idea,so will give it a go.Fingers crossed it works.

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