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Long-nosed potoroo

Common name: long-nosed potoroo

Scientific name: Potorous tridactylus tridactylus  

Family: Potoroidae (potoroos and bettongs)

Conservation status: This subspecies is listed as Vulnerable in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and nationally (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999). It is ranked as a medium priority under the department's Back on Track species prioritisation framework.

Description

At a first glance the long-nosed potoroo with its pointed nose and grey-brown fur looks very much like a bandicoot - that is until it hops away with its front feet tucked into its chest, revealing its close relationship with the kangaroo family. It is a small marsupial with a body length between 340 mm and 380 mm, and a tail length up to 235 mm.

Habitat and distribution

The long-nosed potoroo occurs across a range of vegetation types from subtropical and warm temperate rainforest through tall open forest with dense understorey to dense coastal heaths. Its main requirement is thick groundcover, which it needs for protection and nesting material. It also prefers light soils that are easy to dig in for the underground roots and fungi that it eats. The home range size of the long-nosed potoroo varies from 2-5 ha, and it is often influenced by habitat quality.

It has a patchy distribution across south-eastern Australia from Queensland to south-east South Australia. In Queensland there are scattered populations that extend from south-east Queensland to northern New South Wales. Its bones have been found in a number of cave deposits indicating it was once more widespread than it is today (Johnston 2002).

Life history and behaviour

Long-nosed potoroos are active during the day and night, but spend much of their time within the shelter of understorey vegetation when they are not active. They use long, slightly curved claws on their front feet to dig up their food. They eat underground fruiting bodies of fungi, roots, fruit, flowers, seeds and insects and their larvae. As it is rarely seen in the wild, better indicators of its presence are the runways it makes through the undergrowth and the hollow diggings it leaves behind when feeding on underground roots and fungi.

Due to their consumption of fungi they spread fungal spores in their droppings. Some of these fungi grow on the roots of native plants and assist the plant in the uptake of nutrients from the soil.

Long-nosed potoroos breed throughout the year. They give birth to a single younge which has a pouch life of 17-18 weeks.

Threatening processes

The long-nosed potoroo was one of the first marsupials to be described by European settlers. Unfortunately these early encounters with human settlement have introduced a number of threats to the species survival including:

  • The clearing of much of its habitat for grazing and other land uses.
  • Exposure to introduced predators such as dogs, cats and foxes.
  • Changes in fire regimes with more severe and frequent wildfires impacting on the remaining habitat.

What can you do to help this species?

  • Prevent domestic cats and dogs from roaming into areas of long-nosed potoroo habitat.
  • Maintain fire-adapted habitats using bioregional planned burn guidelines.
  • Protect and maintain habitat, especially dense understorey. Where possible, fence areas of habitat to avoid grazing and trampling by domestic stock.

Related information

Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing 2013 'Planned burn guidelines – South East Queensland Bioregion of Queensland' Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing, Brisbane.

Department of the Environment and Energy (DOEE) 2017, Potorous tridactylus tridactylus in Species Profile and Threats Database, DOEE, Canberra.

Johnson, PM 2003, Kangaroos of Queensland, A Queensland Museum Guide, Queensland Museum, Brisbane.

Jones, C and Parish, S 2006, Field guide to Australian mammals, Steve Parish Publishing.

Maxwell, S, Burbidge, AA, and Morris, K (eds.) 1996, The Action Plan For Australian Marsupials and Monotremes Wildlife Australia Endangered Species Program Project Number 500.

Menkhorst, P and Knight, F 2010, A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia (third edition), Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Last updated
12 July 2017