Status Near Threatened
Size Head-body: 26-41 cm; tail: 19-26 cm
Weight 0.66-1.7 kg
Gestation 38 days
Life span Up to 16 years
Long-nosed potoroos primarily eat fungi. They mainly eat hypogeal (underground fruiting) fungi, but also eat epigeal (above ground) fungi as well as invertebrates and plant material such flowers, roots, fruits and seeds.
This species is found along the coast of the south-east Australian mainland, on the Bass Strait islands and on Tasmania. It is rare on the mainland and the Bass Strait islands, but more common in Tasmania. Long-nosed potoroos live in a variety of habitats including rainforest, coastal scrub, heathland and woodlands. They tend to be found in areas with thick ground or understorey vegetation, which they use for shelter.
Potoroos are born weighing just 0.3 grams. Within the first ten minutes of being born the young will climb up into its mother’s pouch and attach itself to one of her teats. It stays like this for the first one and a half to two months of its life. When the infant has developed fur, it starts to spend time outside of the pouch. It gradually spends more and more time outside until it is four or five months of age and the mother forces it to stay out, which usually coincides with the birth of a new infant. The young are weaned by five months of age but stay close to the mother until they are about a year old. Most female potoroos will be looking after three young at any one time, with one infant who is out of the pouch but still suckling or keeping close to her, a newborn in her pouch, and an embryo which starts to develop but then remains dormant until the young in the pouch is old enough to leave.
This species has a variety of predators including dingoes, quolls, eagles, owls, and pythons. If a potoroo senses a ground-based predator close by, they usually freeze before using a rush of speed and quick movements to dart to safety when the predator is only a metre or two away.
The main threat facing long-nosed potoroos is predation by red foxes, as well as by wild dogs and feral cats. They are also affected by habitat loss and fragmentation, though they are found in several conservation reserves where they have some.
Long-nosed potoroos dig themselves a shallow ‘squat’ under thick vegetation to rest in during the day.
This species is good at climbing and individuals have been seen climbing fences.
Potoroos are a vital part of their ecosystem for several reasons. As they dig for fungi they turn over the soil which improves its quality; the spores of the fungi they eat are scattered when they defecate which helps the fungi to spread; and this mycorrhizal fungi has symbiotic, or mutually beneficial, relationships with the trees and plants in their habitat, for example by increasing the nutrients they obtain from the soil and in some instances protecting plants from diseases.
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The volunteering day was well organised and a great opportunity to give back to Marwell and offer a little help. We all had a great day and most definitely be back to help where we can, also recommend to anyone else who can offer their time. Paul, SSE, 23rd May 2018