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Brush Tailed Bettong

Fact File

Continent: Australia
Habitat: Open woodland and forest
Weight and Length: 1.1kg, 0.35m

Diet: Omnivore (eats plants and meat)
Gestation: 21 days
Number of Young: 1

Conservation Status: CR


  • Is a nocturnal animal.
  • Can use its tail to hold nesting material.
  • Is a versatile species that can live in several types of habitat, though it is extinct in some.
  • It can only digest fungi indirectly, through bacteria.

brush-tailed Bettong

Bettongia penicillata

Animals —  Mammals — Diprotodontia (koala & relatives) — Potoroidae (bettong & relatives)

Brush-tailed bettongs are very closely related to kangaroos and wallabies. They are also known as woylies. They are a small marsupial, only being 30-25cm long, appearing like large rats as their tails are mostly bare. Their fur is brownish grey and paler on their undersides.

These bettongs are nocturnal, and usual because of their high fungi diet. Interestingly, they don’t drink water. They also have the ability to curl their tails back to hold things like sticks and grass for bedding material. Females can breed from the age of 6 months, and can give birth every 3 and a half months to one young.

The brush-tailed bettong is critically endangered. One of its two subspecies is extinct, and surviving populations of the other live in much restricted areas of south-western Australia. Reintroduction attempts were proving very successful until 2001 when there was a large population crash, likely due to parasite burdens and predation by foxes. There are several sanctuaries for this species and it is hoped numbers will start to rise again, though breeding in captivity is important.

Habitat: Able to live in many habitats including scrub and desert grassland, but currently only live in open forests and woodlands.

Vital Statistics:
–Average weight: 1.1kg
–Average length: 0.35m

Life Expectancy:
In the wild up to: 6 years
In captivity up to: 19 years

Diet: They are omnivores and so eat plants and meat. They are primarily herbivorous, feeding mostly on fungi, but also eat bulbs and tubers. Their insect consumption could also classify them as being omnivorous.

Distribution: Extreme south-west Australia.