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Rufous Bettong Fact File

Aepyprymnus rufescens

Credit: The Animal Facts

Weight

3kg

(6.6lbs)

Length

48cm

(19in)

Lifespan

Wild 4-6 years

Captive 8 years

Diet

Omnivores

Grass, Fungi, Insects

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

A Mini Kangaroo!

The rufous bettong is a close relative of Australia's icon, the kangaroo, sharing their ability to hop through the forest. These mini roos though stand just 35cm (14in) tall.


They are active by night when they will move through the forest using their strong claws to dig up food. One of their main food sources is fungi with grasses, other plant matter and insects also being consumed.


Females give birth to a single joey which begins life in a pouch.


Rufous bettongs are considered stable. Small declines are being driven by habitat destruction and increased fire regimes.


Read on to learn more about these marvellous marsupials.

Appearance

What does the Rufous Bettong look like?

The fur of a rufous bettong is gray or silvery across the body with a slight reddish tinge on the upper back. Their underside is colored cream or white. Their nose has a pink tip and a pink ring is present under the eye.


At the end of the body is a tail which is colored grey. In some individuals it has a white tip. This adds between 35 and 40cm (14-15.7in) to their length.


An average individual will measure 48cm (19in) long. An average individual would weigh up to 3kg (6.6lbs). They stand 35cm (14in) tall. Females tend to be larger than the males.


They are the largest species of bettong.

Adaptations

How does the Rufous Bettong survive in its habitat?


Their large back feet allow them to hop across the ground at speed.


The have large curved foreclaws which are used to to dig in to the soil.

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Diet

What does the Rufous Bettong eat?

Rufous bettongs are omnivores. Their primary food source is fungi but roots, tubers, herbs, grasses and insects will also be consumed.


This species rarely needs to drink free water and will only seek this out during drought.

Learn more about the Rufous Bettong in this video from the Australian Reptile Park on YouTube

Range

Where do you find the Rufous Bettong?

Australia is the native home of the rufous bettong. Here they can be found along the east coast of the country in Queensland and New South Wales.

Remains of this species have been found in Victoria and islands near Tasmania indicating that their range formerly took in these areas but they are now not known from these areas.

Habitat

Where can the Rufous Bettong survive?

This species is found in wooded areas where there is a grassy understorey. They have also been seen in grazing areas.

Rufous Bettong (Aepyprymnus rufescens)

Credit: The Animal Facts

Reproduction

How does the Rufous Bettong produce its young?

Breeding can take place at any time of the day.


Females which are unreceptive to mating will drive away males using loud growls while striking and kicking at the other.


They are not considered monogamous but studies have indicated that males will regularly mate with the same females.


Females perform embryonic diapause and will have another embryo ready to develop while another joey sits in the pouch. They give birth to a single joey after a 24 day gestation period. This initially carried in the mothers pouch.


Young become independent by 31 weeks of age.


Sexual maturity is reached around 11 months old.

Behavior

What does the Rufous Bettong do during its day?

This species is active at night when they will emerge to seek out food. Outside of this time they will seek shelter in a nest which is a shallow scrape covered by vegetation. They will carry nesting material in their tail.


These animals may form up to 5 nests at any one time and move between them.

Males maintain a territory. This will take in the nest sites of several females.


They are a solitary species.


Most of their movement is slow with their feet sitting on the ground and their feet shuffling along behind. They are also able to hop using their back legs like a kangaroo.


This species will regularly dig in to the soil which assists with the decomposition of the leaf litter. They engineer the ecosystem through spreading fungal spores.

Rufous Bettong (Aepyprymnus rufescens)

Credit: The Animal Facts

Predators and Threats

What stops the Rufous Bettong from surviving and thriving?

Introduced predators such as the red fox and feral cat will target this species and can cause declines in their numbers. Rabbits will also compete with them for food.


This species is considered to be common across much of its range.


Threats to their survival include intensification in agriculture practices and habitat destruction. Climate change is an increasing threat to their future.

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Quick facts

This species may also be known as the rufous rat-kangaroo.

Rufous Bettong (Aepyprymnus rufescens)

Credit: The Animal Facts

References

Burnett, S. & Winter, J. 2016. Aepyprymnus rufescensThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T40558A21961456. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T40558A21961456.en. Accessed on 04 April 2022.

Peterson, E. 2000. "Aepyprymnus rufescens" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 04, 2022 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Aepyprymnus_rufescens/

Bush Heritage Australia. 2022. Bettongs (Rat Kangaroos) – Bush Heritage Australia. [online] Available at: <https://www.bushheritage.org.au/species/bettongs> [Accessed 4 April 2022].

Environment | Department of Environment and Science, Queensland. 2022. Rufous bettong. [online] Available at: <https://environment.des.qld.gov.au/wildlife/animals/a-z/rufous-bettong> [Accessed 4 April 2022].

The Australian Museum. 2022. Rufous Bettong. [online] Available at: <https://australian.museum/learn/animals/mammals/rufous-bettong/> [Accessed 4 April 2022].

Walkaboutpark.com.au. 2022. Rufous Bettong. [online] Available at: <http://www.walkaboutpark.com.au/mammals/rufous-bettong> [Accessed 4 April 2022].

Cavershamwildlife.com.au. 2022. Rufus Bettong » Caversham Wildlife Park. [online] Available at: <https://cavershamwildlife.com.au/our-animals/show/rufus-bettong/> [Accessed 4 April 2022].

Walkaboutpark.com.au. 2022. Rufous Bettong. [online] Available at: <http://www.walkaboutpark.com.au/mammals/rufous-bettong> [Accessed 4 April 2022].

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