Northern Bettong

Bettongia tropica

Status

Endangered (State & Commonwealth)

Problem

Northern Bettongs were once widely distributed. Today, they are known only from four locations between Mt Windsor Tableland and Paluma, a total north-south spread of 340 km. Bettongs are threatened by changes in land use, particularly frequency of burning, disturbance from pigs and predation by dogs, foxes and cats.

Background Information

Northern Bettongs depend on underground truffles (fungus balls). Their unusual feeding behaviour contributes to the health of forest communities. If this endangered marsupial disappears, the vitality of the whole ecosystem changes...not necessarily for the better.

Research

James Cook University research has revealed a close association between Northern Bettongs and underground truffles, which they locate by smell, then dig up and eat. The truffle package includes indigestible spores that are spread throughout the woodland in the bettongs' droppings. Truffles benefit trees by increasing their ability to absorb nutrients and water. In return, trees provide sugars necessary to truffle growth.

Solution

Increase known populations by managing habitat. Translocate and relocate bettongs to suitable habitat. Establish best firing practice. Monitor predators and control feral pigs.

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