The function of alimentation is closely associated with that of locomotion, somewhat as in the burrowing earthworm; in the excavation of its burrows the sand is passed through the body, and any nutrient matter that may adhere to it is extracted during its passage through the intestine, the exhausted sand being finally ejected through the vent at the orifice of the burrow and appearing at low tide as a worm casting.
The Persian jerboa (Alactaga indica) is also a nocturnal burrowing animal, feeding chiefly on grain, which it stores up in underground repositories, closing these when full, and only drawing upon them when the supply of food above ground is exhausted (see also Jumping Mouse).
Various hawks and owls are common; the golden eagle nests on the mountain crags and the burrowing owl on the plains.
About 100 species of these rather archaic snakes are known; in adaptation to their burrowing life and worm and insect diet, they have undergone degradation.
Likewise primitive, but in various respects degraded, mainly owing to burrowing habits, are the Typhlopidae with the Ilysiidae, and Uropeltidae as a terminal branch, and on the other hand the Glauconiidae.
It is of nocturnal and burrowing habits, and feeds on decomposed animal substances, larvae and termites.
Other terrestrial marsupials are the wombat (Phascolomys), a large, clumsy, burrowing animal, not unlike a pig, which attains a weight of from 60 to 100 lb; the bandicoot (Perameles), a rat-like creature whose depredations annoy the agriculturist; the native cat (Dasyurus), noted robber of the poultry yard; the Tasmanian wolf (Thylacinus), which preys on large game; and the recently discovered Notoryctes, a small animal which burrows like a mole in the desert of the interior.
The timid viscacha (Lagostomus trichodactylus), living in colonies, often with the burrowing owl, and digging deep under ground like the American prairie dog, was almost the only quadruped to be seen upon these immense open plains.
A separate family, Notoryctidae, is represented by the marsupial mole (Notoryctes typhlops), of the deserts of south Central Australia, a silky, golden-haired, burrowing creature, with a curious leathery muzzle, and a short, naked stumpy tail.
They include terrestrial, semi-aquatic and burrowing types; none of them with any signs of degradation; on the contrary they belong to the most highly organized of snakes.