Brush-tailed bettong in exhibit

Brush-tailed Bettong

Scientific Name
Bettongia penicillata
Southwestern Australia
Grasslands and wooded areas
Estimated Wild Population
Brush-tailed bettong in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Critically Endangered Endangered Status Graph - Critically Endangered

More Information

Brush-tailed bettongs can reach up to two and a half feet long, with their tail accounting for nearly half that length, and weigh up to three pounds. Their fur is grayish-brown on top but lighter underneath, and the tips of their muzzle are naked and flesh-colored. Females have a well-developed pouch for caring young, earning them the nickname “rat kangaroos.” These nocturnal, terrestrial mammals primarily eat fungus but supplement their diet with tubers, seeds, insects and resin. Bettong nests—built with grass, sticks, and bark—are usually located at the base of an overhanging bush.

Did You Know?

Brush-tailed bettongs use their partially prehensile tails to carry nesting material.

Two viable offspring are often conceived at the same time, but because of the species’ embryonic diapause, a temporary arrest of embryo development due to delayed implantation in the uterus, the second offpsring is born several months after the first.

Nocturnal bettongs dig up to 115 holes in the ground each night.

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Species Survival Plan®

We cooperate with other members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage the zoo population of this species through a Species Survival Plan®.

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