Brush-tailed bettong in exhibit

Brush-tailed Bettong

Scientific Name
Bettongia penicillata
Geographic Range
Western Australia
Fungus (also bulbs, seeds, insects, and plant resin)
Brush-tailed bettong in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Critically Endangered Endangered Status Graph - Critically Endangered

More Information

Brush-tailed bettongs are small bipedal marsupials with long gray or brown fur on the back and sides and a characteristic black crest of fur on the tip of their tail. They are generally 11–18 inches long with tails up to 13 inches, with hind feet that are longer than their front feet. These animals are nocturnal and may dig more than 100 investigatory holes each night.

These marsupials are mostly solitary and communicate through smells. Females give birth to a maximum of three offspring per year. Their gestation is only 21 days, but their young will then stay in the female’s pouch for three months.

Did You Know?

  • Brush-tailed bettongs are marsupials with prehensile tails, which they use to collect nesting materials.
  • Most of their food is found underground, so they use their sense of smell to locate it and then their front claws to dig it up. They are adapted to eating fungi; their stomachs have increased amounts of bacteria to break it up and release its nutrients.
  • An unexplained population decline took place in the bettong population starting in 2001, but conservation initiatives are now working to manage their habitat and control the numbers of local foxes that prey on them.


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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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