Long-Nosed Potoroo Fact File
The long-nosed potoroo is a member of the macropod family which are marsupials with large feet making them a close relative of the kangaroo and wallaby. They are much smaller than these well known cousins measuring 28.7-41cm (11.3-16.1in) for males and 25.9-37.8cm (10.2-14.9in) long for females. Males weigh between 0.7 and 1.65kg (1.5-3.6lbs) while females are smaller at between 0.6 and 1.35kg (1.3-3lbs).
At the end of their body is a tail which measures 19.8-26.2cm (7.8-10.3in) long.
Most of their body is covered with brown, reddish-brown or grey fur. Some have a white tip to their tail. On the underside they are paler in color.
Their name comes from the long snout which is tapered to a point and has a bare patch at the nostrils. This nose tends to increase in length the further south the population is located but there is no scientific consensus as to why this occurs.
Long-nosed potoroos are omnivores. They feed on a range of tubers, fungi, roots, flowers, fruits, seeds, insects and larvae.
They dig small holes in the ground to access these food sources.
These animals help to spread fungal spores through the forest in their feces. They also assist the ecosystem by turning over the soil while digging for fungi.
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Australia is the native home of the long-nosed potoroo. Here they can be found along the east coast of the mainland in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and on the island of Tasmania. They may also be found on some smaller islands in the Bass Strait.
They make their home in wet eucalypt forest, scrubland, woodlands, rainforest and coastal heath. They require thick groundcover in which they can hide. Often their habitat is near a gully or creek.
Breeding can take place year round. Two peaks occur in births with one from late winter to early spring and the other during late summer.
A single joey is born after a gestation period of 38 days and makes its way from the birth canal to the pouch itself. In the pouch it will attach to the teat where it remain for the next 1.5-2 months.
This gestation period is the longest of any marsupial species.
It will then start to emerge from the pouch but returns their periodically to suckle or rest. This continues until 5 months old when the baby is forced from the pouch. Typically this coincides with the birth of a new joey. At this time they will wean but they may remain with the mother until they are a year old.
Females are able to produce between two and three young over the course of a year.
Sexual maturity occurs at one year old.
The long-nosed potoroo is typically solitary.
They are primarily nocturnal. During the day they will dig a shallow ‘squat’ under dense vegetation in which they can hide. In winter they occasionally forage during the day.
Long-nosed potoroos are able climbers and have been seen to climb fences.
Predators and Threats
Natural predators of the long-nosed potoroo include dingoes, quolls, eagles, owls and snakes.
Invasive species such as the red fox, domestic dog and cat also reduce the population of this species.
When they come across a predator the long-nosed potoroo will freeze before using a rush of speed to escape.
Humans have impacted the population of this species through habitat clearing and fragmentation, harvesting of their habitat for timber and an increase in fires.
Previously they were hunted for their meat and fur along with being persecuted as an assumed agricultural pest.
They are also known as the rat kangaroo.
Long-nosed potoroos are one of the first marsupials which was described by European settlers when they came to Australia.
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