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Long-nosed Potoroo, Potorous tridactylus

Description

Potoroo

Potoroos reach 1.3 kg in weight and range in colour from red-brown on the west coast to grey on the east coast, with paler fur on the belly. Most individuals have a white tip at the end of their tail. The potoroo may also be identified by its darker colour, and its larger, more pointed nose which has a bare patch of skin above the nostrils.

Distribution and habitat

The species is widespread in Tasmania and are found on Flinders Island and Bruny Island. The potoroo is still found on the east coast of the mainland, where its range has decreased.

Preferred habitat ranges from moderately dry grassy woodland to wet dense scrub under which it forms a system of tracks or 'runways'. The potoroo is nocturnal, spending the hours of daylight in thick vegetation.

Diet

The diet of the potoroo includes seeds, roots, bulbs and insects. However, the main components in the diet are underground fungi which are dug up using the strong forepaws. Occasionally, potoroos will venture into gardens and dig up seedlings in a search for soil invertebrates and fungi. If this is a real problem a low netting fence can be erected. Masked owls, eastern quolls, feral cats and dogs regularly prey on potoroos.

Breeding

Footprints of potoroo

There is no specific breeding season, with animals capable of giving birth throughout the year, although in the potoroo there is a tendency for most births to occur from the end of winter to early spring.

Gestation period is 38 days, the longest of any macropod despite its relatively small size. Pouch life is 4 months. Young potoroos are weaned at 5 - 6 months and are sexually mature at about 8-10 months for females and a liitle later for males. Up to two young per year are produced.

Longevity in the wild averages 2 - 3 years, but can live for up to 7 years.

Status

The potoroo is common in suitable habitat. However, it can be affected by the clearing of bush areas, with new growth forest being less suitable for their needs. It is wholly protected.