Rufous Bettong, Aepyprymnus rufescens
Where do they live?
Rufous Bettongs are a type of potoroo or rat-kangaroo, and are distributed across both sides of the Great Dividing Range in northern NSW and Queensland. You can find them in some of the National Parks in these two areas.
What is their habitat?
Rufous Bettongs prefer coastal eucalypt forests, tall wet sclerophyll forests and dry open woodlands. You may find them hiding among the native grasses and perhaps a hollow log on the valley floor.
What’s special about them?
Rufous Bettongs are special because they are the largest of the rat kangaroos and the most widespread. They are survivors among so many others, like the Burrowing Bettong, that have become extinct, as farmland, urban spread and introduced predators have overtaken their habitat.
What do they eat?
Rufous Bettongs usually come out shortly after dark to look for food. They mainly eat herbs, roots, tubers and fungi. They can cover large distances when foraging, sometimes 2–4.5 kilometres.
How do they reproduce?
Females are continuous breeders, with sexual maturity reached at around 11 months. Females raise one young per pregnancy, but are able to pause a pregnancy (called ‘embryonic diapause’) until conditions are suitable and can have three to four young per year. Life in the pouch lasts for about four months and, once the pouch is vacant, mating begins again.
What else do I need to know?
Rufous Bettongs are marsupials, covered in shaggy grey fur with a rufous (red) tinge on top and pale grey on the underside. The tail is grey, sometimes with a white tip. The muzzle is short, with fur between the nostrils. Bare pink skin surrounds the eyes, and the ears are relatively long. They can grow up to 48 centimetres.
What is their conservation status?
Rufous Bettongs have an IUCN listing of Least Concern.
In NSW, Australia, they are considered Vulnerable.