Tasmanian Bettong


BETTONG

How many of you have heard of the Tasmanian Bettong? I confess that, sadly, I had no knowledge of such a cute little native animal until a few days ago. So just in case there are others like me, here is a bit of info… The Bettong is a small marsupial found only in the eastern half of ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" / Tasmania. It became extinct on the mainland in the early decades of the twentieth century, largely because of predation by foxes and large scale land clearance. ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /

Bettongs typically weigh just 2kgs and their tails are as long as their head and body combined. So it’s easy to see where their nickname “rat-kangaroo” came from! They are browny-grey in colour with white bellies. Bettongs prefer to live in dry, open eucalypt forests and grassy woodlands. They are mostly nocturnal and build domed, camouflaged nests of grass in which to spend the daylight hours.

Bettongs roam quite a large area for such a small animal – travelling up to 2 km a night searching for their preferred diet of seeds, roots, bulbs and insects. As a consequence, they build new nests regularly, carrying the building materials in their prehensile tails to ensure they have shelter before daybreak.

Their main predators now are masked owls, eastern quolls, feral cats and dogs and they are on the protected species list.

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