Eastern Bettong

The Eastern Bettong (Bettongia gaimardi), also known as the Southern Bettong and Tasmanian Bettong, is a bettong whose natural range includes south-eastern Australia and the eastern part of Tasmania. Following the introduction of the Red Fox, it became extinct on mainland Australia around 1890. This bettong’s habitat is open woodlands at altitudes between sea-level and 3280 feet. (The highest point on Tasmania is at 5305 feet.)

The Eastern Bettong is a nocturnal animal. During the day it sleeps in a nest it constructs out of grasses and leaves. A major component of its diet is underground fungi related to truffles, but it is also happy to dig up roots and tubers as well. Insects and grubs are also eaten when encountered. It is unique in that it will travel up to 1 mile from its nest to a feeding area, which is a considerable distance for a creature that rarely exceeds 4.5 pounds in mass.

While the mainland population became extinct in the final years of the 19th century, the Tasmanian population has been regarded as secure. One concern is that most of the bettongs are found on private land, with only two groups found within reserves. A major threat to this population has resulted from the deliberate (but illegal) introduction of Red Foxes to Tasmania in 2004. If foxes become common in Tasmania, it is likely the Tasmanian bettongs will face a fate similar to that of the mainland population.

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