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Long-nosed Potoroo[1]
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Potoroidae
Genus: Potorous
Species: P. tridactylus
Binomial name
Potorous tridactylus
(Kerr, 1792)

The Long-nosed Potoroo (Potorous tridactylus*) is a species of Australian potoroo. It is listed as Endangered in Victoria (Flora Fauna Guarantee Act 1988), Vulnerable in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and nationally (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999), although the IUCN lists it as Lower Risk.

At first glance the Long-nosed Potoroo with its pointed nose and grey-brown fur looks very much like a bandicoot — that is until it hops away with its front feet tucked into its chest; revealing its close relationship with the kangaroo family. It is only a small marsupial with a body length between 340mm and 380mm, and a tail length from 150mm to 240mm.[3]

As it is rarely seen in the wild, better indicators of its presence are the runways it makes through the undergrowth and the hollow diggings it leaves behind when feeding on underground roots and fungi.


Habitat and distribution

The Long-nosed Potoroo occurs across a range of vegetation types from subtropical and warm temperate rainforest through tall open forest with dense understorey to dense coastal heaths. Its main requirement is thick groundcover, which it needs for protection and nesting material. It also prefers light soils that are easy to dig in for the underground roots and fungi that it eats.

It has a patchy distribution across south-eastern Australia and is only known from a small area of southern Queensland that extends into northern New South Wales and in southern Victoria. Its bones have been found in a number of cave deposits indicating it was once more widespread than it is today.

Life history and behaviour

The Long-nosed Potoroo is nocturnal, spending much of its time within the shelter of understorey vegetation. It uses long, slightly curved claws on their front feet to dig up their food. It eats underground fruiting bodies of fungi, roots, fruit, flowers, seeds and insects and their larvae.

Because it eats fungi, it spreads fungal spores in its droppings. Some of these fungi grow on the roots of native plants and assist the plant in the uptake of nutrients from the soil.

Potoroos are prey to dingoes, owls, feral dogs and cats, and foxes.

Threatening processes

The Long-nosed Potoroo was one of the first marsupials to be described by European settlers. Unfortunately these early encounters with this species were the result of the spread of human settlement, which has led to the clearing of much of its habitat for grazing and other land uses. This has also exposed potoroos to a range of introduced predators including cats and foxes.

The pattern of burning in areas of remaining habitat has also changed, with more severe and more frequent fires creating a sparse understorey that provides little shelter for small mammals like the potoroo.

Recovery actions

There is ongoing monitoring of the long-nosed potoroo while a recovery plan is being prepared for this species.



Cited references

  1. ^ Groves, C. (2005). Wilson, D. E., & Reeder, D. M.. ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 58. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.  
  2. ^ Menkhorst, P. & Lunney, D. (2008). Potorous tridactylus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 29 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  3. ^ "1" (in English). The Illustrated Encyclopædia of Animals (1st ed.). London: Marshall Publishing. 1998. p. 31. ISBN 1840280875.  

General references

  • Johnston, P.G. (2002). Long-nosed Potoroo, in Strahan, R. (ed.). 2002. The Mammals of Australia. Revised Edition. Australian Museum and Reed New Holland publishers.
  • Johnson, P.M. (2003). Kangaroos of Queensland. Queensland Museum.
  • Maxwell, S., Burbidge, A.A, and Morris, K. (eds.) (1996). The 1996 Action Plan For Australian Marsupials and Monotremes. Wildlife Australia Endangered Species Program Project Number 500.
  • Long-footed Potoroo (Potorous longipes) Recovery Plan, February 2000

*(potoroo = Indigenous name for small rat-kangaroo; tridactylus = “three-toed” because it was originally believed that they only had three toes)


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