Long-Nosed Potoroo

Long-Nosed Potoroo

Long-nosed rat-kangaroo, Wallaby rat

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Infraclass
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Potorous tridactylus
Population size
75,000
Life Span
5-12 yrs
WEIGHT
0.7-1.8 kg
LENGTH
34-38 cm

After dragging a fleeing animal from its shelter, Charles Darwin described the Long-nosed potoroo as “an animal, as big as a rabbit, but with the figure of a kangaroo”. This small kangaroo is one of the most ancient species of its family. Belonging to an ancient branch in the evolution of kangaroos, patoroos have undergone little changes during 10 million years, becoming a living fossil. The pointed nose and grey-brown fur make this animal quite similar to bandicoot. However, when the Long-nosed potoroo hops away, tucking its front feet into its chest, its association with kangaroos becomes obvious.

Distibution

Populations of Long-nosed potoroos occur on Tasmania, some of the Bass Strait islands as well as south-eastern coast of Australia, from Queensland to south-eastern South Australia. In order to find shelter from predators, potoroos usually live in areas with dense ground cover. They favor habitats with a variety of vegetation communities, including coastal heath and coastal woodland, dry and wet sclerophyll forests and rainforest.

Long-Nosed Potoroo habitat map

Geography

Continents
Countries

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Long-nosed potoroos are generally solitary. They socialize only when mating or rearing their offspring. In addition, there have been observed loose feeding groups, consisting of several males and females. These potoroos do not display territorial behavior. Home ranges of these animals often: while home range of one male can overlap with these of multiple females, each female has exclusive home range in order to have access to the male at any time of year. As nocturnal animals, Long-nosed potoroos spend their daytime hours sheltering in dense vegetation. They come out of their shelters during the night to find food. However, during the winter (particularly on cloudy days), they are known to emerge from their shelters by day. When foraging, potoroos usually make short hops on the forest floor and dig small hollows in the ground to find food. Living in dense vegetation, Long-nosed potoroos create a system of tracks through the undergrowth, which serve as reliable protection from predators.

Diet and Nutrition

The diet of these omnivorous animals primarily consists of fungi, complemented with green vegetation, tubers, seeds, fruits as well as arthropods such as centipedes.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
Year-round, peaks occure in early spring and early summer
PREGNANCY DURATION
38 days
BABY CARRYING
1 joey
INDEPENDENT AGE
5-6 months
BABY NAME
joey

Long-nosed potoroos are polygynandrous (promiscuous): this is when both males and females have multiple mates. They breed all year round with peak periods, occurring in early spring and early summer. Gestation period in this species is the longest among all marsupials - 38 days. Female gives birth to a single baby, which climbs into the pouch of its mother, living there for about 4 months. Weaning occurs by 5 - 6 months of age, while sexual maturity is reached at one year old.

Population

Population threats

These animals presently suffer from logging and resulting changes in fire regimes. Long-nosed potoroo face loss of their natural habitat and predation by cats, dogs, foxes and other introduced predators.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Long-nosed potoroo is estimated at 75,000 mature individuals. This species is classified as Near Threatened (NT), its numbers are currently decreasing.

Ecological niche

As herbivores, these potoroos help prevent fires by grazing undergrowth as well as turning the leaf litter over. Due to feeding upon fungi, Long-nosed potoroos serve as key dispersers of its spores, thus helping maintain health of the local ecosystem. Fungi, found at the roots of various Eucalypts and Acacias, are highly beneficial for trees, allowing them to absorb more water and nutrients and can help seedlings survive.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The length of Long-nosed potoroo’s nose depends on locality. As a general rule, the souther the individual lives, the longer its nose is.
  • When constructing their nests, female potoroos use their semi-prehensile tails to carry nesting material.
  • As a matter of fact, Long-nosed potoroos have survived due to their ability of eating any sort of food and living anywhere with a dense cover of vegetation. Even now, when frequent bush fires in Australia wipe out their habitat, these animals move on, occupying new areas and making their homes there.
  • When threatened, potoroos are able to leap very high if necessary.
  • A newborn baby of Long-nose potoroo is blind, naked and about a size of a five pence piece.
  • Immediately after birth, the baby crawls from the birth canal to the pouch of its mother, remaining and growing there for the following several months.
  • Long-nose potoroos possess an exceptionally keen sense of smell as a result of adaptation to their nocturnal lifestyle. Their behavior can be observed in zoos, where these animals usually live in nocturnal houses or areas.

References

1. Long-Nosed Potoroo Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-nosed_potoroo
2. Long-Nosed Potoroo on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/41511/0

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