Rufous bettong Photo: EHP
Common name: rufous bettong
Species name: Aepyprymnus rufescens
Conservation status: This species is listed as Least Concern in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and it is ranked as a low priority under the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Back on Track species prioritisation framework.
Bettongs are a type of potoroid, or very small kangaroo. Measuring just 38 cm from head to tail, the rufous bettong is tiny. Rufous bettongs take their name from their coarse, reddish-grey fur. They have pointed ears, a hairy muzzle, pale red fur round the eyes, and an almost hairless tail. Males weigh up to 3 kg, with females slightly heavier.
Habitat and description
Still fairly common, the rufous bettong lives in forests and woodlands along the east coast of mainland Australia from north Queensland to mid-New South Wales and around the Murray River.
Life history and behaviour
Like its larger cousins, the bettong can cover a lot of ground, travelling up to 4.5 km in a night as it searches for grass, herbs, roots, tubers and fungi to eat. The bettong rarely drinks, except during drought. In the daytime, the bettong stays in its grass nest, built in a shallow hole under tussocks of grass or shrubs.
Rufous bettongs may be solitary or live in pairs, and are capable of breeding at any time of year. They have a 24 day gestation period, giving birth to a single young which is carried in the mothers pouch. The young become independent at 31 weeks of age and reach sexual maturity at 8-9 months old. This reproduction cycle enables the rufous bettong to produce up to three young in a single year.