Brushtailed Bettong

Brushtailed Bettong

Scientific Name:
Bettongia penicillata

See map

Forests, scrub and grasslands

Average Size:
Body Length: 10-17 inches
Body-Tail Length: 19-30 inches
Weight: 2.4-3.5 pounds

About 8 years

Wild: bulbs, tubers, seeds, insect, resin, fungi
Zoo: variety of produce.

Gestation (internal): 111 days
Litter size: One

Small marsupial with a grey-brown fur and little to now hair on the muzzle and tail.

Wide Variety of predators from raptors to dingoes.

Population Status:
Critically endangered

Brushtailed Bettong_map

About the Animal: Brushtailed Bettongs are one of the smallesst members of the kangaroo family. Growing to a maximum of 30 inches (and usually much smaller) they prefer to live in wooded areas if possible. Like their larger, better known cousins, they use a bipedal hopping motion to get around.

Once found over 60% of the Australian continent, the range of the Brushtailed Bettong has been reduced to only 1% of its traditional homelands. Efforts to re-introduce this species have met with limited and slow success rates.

Brushtailed Bettongs have a strange diet – while it does eat bulbs, tubers, seeds, insects and resin, the bulk of it’s diet is underground fungi. Like most animals bettongs are incapable of truly digesting the fungi. Instead a portion of their digestive track contains fungi-eating bacteria. These bacteria consume the fungi and then are digested in the bettongs gut.

Additionally, bettongs are almost like little farmers. They will collect seed and nuts of favorite species and bury them. Later, instead of digging up the buried food, they wait for the plant to sprout and eat the young, tender shoots.

Mating and Reproduction: There is no set breeding season for bettongs-they have been observed breeding all year long. Females are capable of reproducing at 6 months of age.

Baby bettongs are born after only a 21-day gestation period. The newborn resembles pink, squirming seed as it makes he arduous journey across the mother’s abdomen and enters the pouch, where it attaches to a nipple. The nipple swells in the newborns’ mouth, preventing it from becoming detached and dropping out of the pouch. Females exhibit embryonic diapause (a pause in development of the embryo) when there is a joey in the pouch, Once the joey leaves the pouch (at about 111 days old), the embryo resumes development.

Amazing Information: The tail of the Brushtailed Bettong is actually prehensile, and the will use it to carry grass and other materials to preferred nesting sites!