Species profile

Burrowing Bettong

Burrowing Bettong

Range and abundance

Burrowing Bettongs were once widespread across arid and semi-arid areas in the south, central and western parts of Australia. Their range contracted dramatically following European settlement and extant populations are now present only on a small number of islands off the coast of Western Australia. Re-introductions to predator-proof enclosures have resulted in the successful establishment of a number of populations in Western Australia, New South Wales and South Australia. Three sub-species, with distinct ranges, are recognised: B. lesueur graii (mainland Australia, now extinct), B. lesueur lesueur (Bernier and Dorre Islands, Shark Bay, WA) and B. lesueur unnamed subspecies (Barrow and Boodie Islands, WA). 

Description

Burrowing Bettongs are a small, thick-set, kangaroo-like animal that weighs approximately 1.3 kg. Boodies have a short, deep muzzle and small, rounded ears. They also have thick yellowish-grey fur that is paler below and a lightly-haired tail that often has a white tip. 

Ecology

Burrowing Bettongs are the only macropod to shelter in burrows. Their burrows vary from simple tunnels to complex warren systems that have several entrances and many interconnecting passageways. Large warrens can support more than 20 animals but individuals tend to forage independently. Like many Australian marsupials, Burrowing Bettongs are nocturnal; emerging after sunset to feed and returning to their burrow before sunrise. Individuals are omnivorous, feeding primarily on roots, tubers and fungi. Breeding varies in response to rainfall but can occur at any time of the year. 

Threats

The disappearance of Burrowing Bettongs from the mainland appears to be largely due to predation by feral cats and foxes. Hunting and poisoning by early agriculturists is also significantly contributed to the species’ decline in some areas. The conservation of Burrowing Bettongs is reliant upon the establishment of feral-free areas on the mainland and on preventing cats and foxes from establishing on islands.  


What is AWC doing?

AWC has established populations of the Burrowing Bettong in large predator-free areas on Scotia and Yookamurra sanctuaries, and Faure Island. AWC ecologists employ techniques such as spotlighting and trapping to monitor the populations. AWC also contributes to the Shark Bay Marsupials Recovery Team. 

Did you know:

Burrowing Bettongs are very vocal. A large variety of squeals, hisses and grunts are made, particularly during interactions with other individuals. When alarmed, animals often emit a sharp grunt-like hiss before fleeing.