Rufous Bettongs are small marsupials, 70 to 80 cm long from nose to tail. They have reddish-brown fur, including on the muzzle. They normally move quite slowly by placing the forelegs on the ground and bringing the hind legs forward together, but can also hop like a kangaroo. When alarmed they stamp their hind feet on the ground. They are known to use their tails to carry nesting material.
Rufous Bettongs inhabit a variety of forests from tall, moist eucalypt forest to open woodland, with a tussock grass understorey. A dense cover of tall native grasses is the preferred shelter.
The original range from Coen in north Queensland to central Victoria has been reduced to a patchy distribution from Cooktown, Queensland, to north-eastern NSW as far south as Mt Royal National Park. In NSW it has largely vanished from inland areas but there are patchy, unconfirmed records from the Pilliga and Torrington districts.
Diet and Behaviour
Rufous Bettongs usually emerge shortly after dark to forage and primarily eat herbs, roots, tubers and fungi. They can cover up to 2km – 4.5km when foraging.
The Rufous Bettong is a solitary species that shelters during the day in ‘nests’, shallow excavations with a dome of fibrous vegetation across the top and a single entrance. Multiple nests are often used by the same individual.
Females are continuous breeders, with sexual maturity reached at around 11 months. Females raise one young per pregnancy, but exhibit embryonic diapause and can have 3-4 young per year.
Habitat loss and clearing for stock grazing
Predation by feral animals, such as foxes and cats
Competition from introduced species, such as rabbits and hares
Illegal poisoning by 1080