The Long-nosed Potoroo
is a species of Australian potoroo
The Potoroo is a kangaroo/rat like animal about the size of a rabbit. All three extant species are threatened, especially The long-footed Potoroo and Gilbert's potoroo...
. It is listed as Endangered in Victoria
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....
(Flora Fauna Guarantee Act 1988), Vulnerable in Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...
(Nature Conservation Act 1992) and nationally (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999), although the IUCN lists it as Lower Risk.
At first glance the Long-nosed Potoroo with its pointed nose and grey-brown fur looks very much like a bandicoot
Bandicoots are a group of about 20 species of small to medium-sized, terrestrial marsupial omnivores in the order Peramelemorphia.- Etymology :...
— that is until it hops away with its front feet tucked into its chest; revealing its close relationship with the kangaroo
A kangaroo is a marsupial from the family Macropodidae . In common use the term is used to describe the largest species from this family, especially those of the genus Macropus, Red Kangaroo, Antilopine Kangaroo, Eastern Grey Kangaroo and Western Grey Kangaroo. Kangaroos are endemic to the country...
family. It is only a small marsupial with a body length between 340mm and 380mm, and a tail length from 150mm to 240mm.
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.
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.
It has a patchy distribution across south-eastern Australia and is only known from a small area of southern Queensland that extends into northern New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...
and in southern Victoria. Its bones have been found in a number of cave deposits indicating it was once more widespread than it is today.
Life history and behaviour
The Long-nosed Potoroo is nocturnal spending much of its time within the shelter of understorey vegetation. It uses long, slightly curved claws on their front feet to dig up their food. It eats underground fruiting bodies of fungi, roots, fruit, flowers, seeds and insects and their larvae.
Because it eats fungi, it spreads fungal spores in its droppings. Some of these fungi grow on the roots of native plants and assist the plant in the uptake of nutrients from the soil.
Potoroos are prey to dingo
The Australian Dingo or Warrigal is a free-roaming wild dog unique to the continent of Australia, mainly found in the outback. Its original ancestors are thought to have arrived with humans from southeast Asia thousands of years ago, when dogs were still relatively undomesticated and closer to...
Owls are a group of birds that belong to the order Strigiformes, constituting 200 bird of prey species. Most are solitary and nocturnal, with some exceptions . Owls hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds, although a few species specialize in hunting fish...
s, feral dogs and cats, and fox
Fox is a common name for many species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small to medium-sized canids , characterized by possessing a long narrow snout, and a bushy tail .Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to...
The Long-nosed Potoroo was one of the first marsupials to be described by European settlers. Unfortunately these early encounters with this species were the result of the spread of human settlement, which has led to the clearing of much of its habitat for grazing and other land uses. This has also exposed potoroos to a range of introduced predators including cats and foxes.
The pattern of burning in areas of remaining habitat has also changed, with more severe and more frequent fires creating a sparse understorey that provides little shelter for small mammals like the potoroo.
There is ongoing monitoring of the long-nosed potoroo while a recovery plan is being prepared for this species.