Long-nosed Potoroo - Reptile Encounters

Long-nosed Potoroo

Scientific name:

Potorous tridactylus

Other names:



Vulnerable. Common in Tasmania but far rarer on the mainland.

The adult long-nosed potoroo is roughly the size of a small rabbit, weighing up to 1.6 kg It has a head and body length of about 36 cm and a tail length between 20-26 cm, which is sparsely furred. Its fur is greyish brown at the top of its body and light grey below. Ears are short and rounded, and the top of the nose is bare.

In Tasmania, moist sclerophyll forests with a dense layer of shrubs. In Victoria it is found in mostly coastal heath woodlands, and in the northern parts of it’s distribution rainforests adjacent to wet sclerophyll and coastal wallum. In all habitats, a dense understory shrub layer for shelter and adjacent, more open foraging sites are crucial to their survival.

Subspecies P. t. apicalis found throughout eastern and northern Tasmania. Subspecies P. t. tridactylus has a patchy distribution from southwestern Victoria along the coast to south east Queensland.

The Long-nosed Potoroo is highly mycophagous (feeds on fungi) and more open areas may be used for foraging where they dig for the fruiting bodies of hypogeal (underground fruiting) fungi. In fact, at certain times of year these underground fruiting fungal bodies make up more than 70% of the diet, particularly during autumn/winter. Invertebrates, fruits and tubers were consumed more during spring/summer but hypogeal fungi still make up at least 25% of the diet.

One of the first Australian mammals described, the Long-nosed potoroo is rarely seen in the wild. The ‘runways’ it leaves through the undergrowth and diggings in the soil may be the only indicators of this species’ presence in an area. Mainly nocturnal, they will shelter during the day beneath dense vegetation or in a short burrow, however they may also forage during the day in cooler months. They are solitary unless the female has a joey at heel, although they are known to congregate in loose groups in feeding areas.

The Long-nosed potoroo becomes mature around a year old, and breeds throughout the year. Only one joey is raised at a time despite the presence of 4 teats in the female’s pouch. Joeys stay in the pouch for around 4 months, and a female will raise 2 joeys each year.

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