Rufous bettong

Rufous bettong  Photo: Queensland Government

Rufous bettong  Photo: Queensland Government

Common name: rufous bettong

Species name: Aepyprymnus rufescens

Family: Potoroidae

Conservation status: This species is listed as Least Concern in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992).


Bettongs are a type of potoroid, or very small kangaroo. Measuring just 38 cm from head to tail, the rufous bettong is tiny. Rufous bettongs take their name from their coarse, reddish-grey fur. They have pointed ears, a hairy muzzle, pale red fur round the eyes, and an almost hairless tail. Males weigh up to 3 kg, with females slightly heavier.

Habitat and description

Still fairly common, the rufous bettong lives in forests and woodlands along the east coast of mainland Australia from north Queensland to mid-New South Wales and around the Murray River.

Life history and behaviour

Like its larger cousins, the bettong can cover a lot of ground, travelling up to 4.5 km in a night as it searches for grass, herbs, roots, tubers and fungi to eat. The bettong rarely drinks, except during drought. In the daytime, the bettong stays in its grass nest, built in a shallow hole under tussocks of grass or shrubs.

Rufous bettongs may be solitary or live in pairs, and are capable of breeding at any time of year. They have a 24 day gestation period, giving birth to a single young which is carried in the mothers pouch. The young become independent at 31 weeks of age and reach sexual maturity at 8-9 months old. This reproduction cycle enables the rufous bettong to produce up to three young in a single year.