The long-nosed potoroo is a species of potoroo. These small marsupials are part of the rat kangaroo family.
The long-nosed potoroo is found on the south-eastern coast of Australia, from Queensland to eastern Victoria and Tasmania, including some of the Bass Strait islands. There are geographically isolated populations in western Victoria. In NSW it is generally restricted to coastal heaths and forests east of the Great Dividing Range with annual rainfall exceeding 760 mm.
The Long-nosed potoroo is one of the smallest and most ancient members of the kangaroo family and is a living fossil, having remained relatively unchanged for around 10 million years. Once widespread along the East Coast of Australia, and like many other smaller native mammals, its population has declined and fragmented since the introduction of foxes and cats, making it difficult for breeding and resulting in local extinctions.
Long-nosed Potoroo Rat Kangaroo Cute Australian Animals about
The Long-nosed Potoroo is about the size of a small rabbit. It has brown-grey fur and a pale grey belly fringed with brown-red. It has small, rounded ears and a sparsely-furred tail 18–24 cm long. It hops like a kangaroo when startled.
Adult Long-nosed potoroos can weigh up to 1kg and have a head and body length of about 360 mm and a tail length between 180 – 260 mm. Their fur is known for being greyish-brown above and light grey below. The upper body is brown to grey with a paler underbody and a long nose that tapers with a small patch of skin extending from the snout to the nose. The length of the feet is shorter than the head length. The species tends to have a 4-legged pottering motion, but when startled, hops like all other kangaroos. It has a life expectancy of around 5 to 6 years in the wild.
The Long-nosed potoroo is an ecosystem engineer, improving the health of the forest by dispersing a host of beneficial fungi spores as they forage and move around. These fungi, which form a major part of their diet, assist eucalypt and acacia trees absorb more water and nutrients and are essential for seedling survival. The Long-nosed potoroo also plays a key role in reducing the chance of fires by grazing undergrowth and turning over leaf litter.
Video Long-Nosed Potoroo Rat Kangaroo Family
Long-nosed Potoroo Rat Kangaroo Habitat and ecology
Inhabits coastal heaths and dry and wet sclerophyll forests. Dense understorey with occasional open areas is an essential part of the habitat and may consist of grass-trees, sedges, ferns or heath, or of low shrubs of tea-trees or melaleucas. Sandy loam soil is also a common feature.
The fruit-bodies of hypogeous (underground-fruiting) fungi are a large component of the diet of the Long-nosed Potoroo. They also eat roots, tubers, insects and their larvae and other soft-bodied animals in the soil.
Often digs small holes in the ground in a similar way to bandicoots.
Mainly nocturnal, hiding by day in dense vegetation – however, during the winter months animals may forage during daylight hours.
Individuals are mainly solitary, non-territorial and have home range sizes ranging between 2-5 hectares.
Breeding peaks typically occur in late winter to early summer and a single young is born per litter. Adults are capable of two reproductive bouts per annum.
Long-nosed Potoroo Rat Kangaroo Diet
Throughout the year, the foraging patterns of Long-nosed Potoroos are dynamic, meaning they exploit a range of locations throughout their range for food resources that change throughout the year. So a Potoroo’s diet will change seasonally, ranging from fungi and seeds throughout Autumn and Winter through to invertebrates and fruit during Spring and Summer.
Much of the food consumed by the Long-nosed Potoroo is obtained underground, so these creatures are well adapted to digging shallow excavations in the litter and soil using their long, well-developed claws. Potoroos eat many types of food such as bulbs, tubers, roots, fruit and invertebrates, but it is fungi that they favour most of all.
The Long-nosed Potoroo’s highly developed sense of smell makes them incredibly good at detecting and unearthing a range of fungi species for consumption.
Importantly, many species of fungi consumed by Potoroo’s, lack active mechanisms for spore dispersal and the fungi are therefore dependent upon animals to spread their spores.
The fungi consumed by potoroos are thought to form beneficial mycorrhizae on trees particularly Eucalyptus and shrubs, so it is very likely that the Long-nosed Potoroo plays a critical role in the dispersal and colonisation of environmentally important fungi throughout its range.
Long-nosed Potoroo Rat Kangaroo Threats and predators
Considering the preference of Long-nosed Potoroo’s for dense ground cover for shelter and more open areas for foraging, the protection of habitats with varying vegetation structure and diversity will be critical for the continued survival of this species.
The historical habitat range of the Long-nosed Potoroo has declined greatly over the last 200 years since European settlement as a result of habitat loss fragmentation for agriculture and human settlement, altered fire regimes and overgrazing by stock.
In addition, Long-nosed Potoroo’s are predated upon by a wide variety of animals both native such as Tiger Quolls, Owls, Raptors, Dingoes and introduced Foxes and Cats.
Unfortunately, there is evidence that suggests the efficient hunting skills of the fox are not impeded by the dense understory vegetation that potoroos rely upon for shelter.
If effective fox control measures are in place it appears that the abundance of Long-nosed potoroos can rebound.
However, it is likely that cat control must also be in place to give these animals the best chance of continued survival because when foxes alone are removed cat numbers increase in the absence of their competitors.
Altogether, predation by introduced predators, habitat loss modification and inappropriate fire regimes are believed to be major contributors to the decline of Long-nosed Potoroos.