What do they look like?Northern Bettongs, are small potoroids (Macropodoidea) with an adult weight of about 1.2 kg and a soft grey pelage, which is darker above and paler below. Their most distinctive features, apart from their small size, include: a short black crest of fur on the upper-distal part of the tail; very short fore-limbs which are held close to the body while moving; long nails on the hands (used for digging); delicate hind legs; and a rounded back and low head while hopping. Sexes are similar.
Where do they live? Northern Bettongs were once widely distributed. Today, they are known only from four locations between Mt Windsor Tableland and Paluma, northern Queensland, a total north-south spread of 340km. The northern bettong apparently prefers wet and mesic sclerophyll forests and open woodland with a grassy understory. It occurs in areas with less fertile soils (e.g. derived from granite) rather than areas with rich soils. This may be because the fungal fruiting bodies which constitute an important part of its diet are most abundant in soils with low fertility. It is generally found above 400m (1300′) elevation.
What do they eat? Fruiting bodies of fungi (similar to truffles) are the most important food items. Other items include grass roots, tubers, lilies, herbs and sedges.
Behaviour: The Northern Bettong is nocturnal. It may require considerable movement during the night to locate the widely scattered fungi it prefers for food. It spends the day hidden in a nest on the ground, located within concealing vegetation or litter. The Northern Bettong is usually solitary.
Reproduction: The Northern Bettong breeds throughout the year. As with other kangaroos, a young Northern Bettong is carried in a pouch until it is able to follow its mother around.
Threats: Northern Bettongs are an endangered species, their habitat is declining due to land being developed for human use. Bettongs are also threatened by changes in land use, particularly frequency of burning, and predation by dogs, foxes and cats.
Conservation Status: ENDANGERED.