Northern Bettong

Bettongia Tropica

So what is a northern bettong?

A northern bettong comes from the Potoroidae Family and is a small, grey marsupial, with a cream belly, broad head, and short, pointy ears that hops enthusiastically during the night. This marsupial can reach an average body size of 31.3 cm and it average tail length is 34 cm. They usually never weigh more than 1.2 kg. These rat kangaroo's can use their tails to grasp things and females of this specie can carry their young in their bellies. Right now, these animals are listed as endangered.
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Diet

These tiny creatures feed on hypogenous fungi or truffles as well as grasses such as the Cockatoo Grass and lilies, fruits and seeds. Usually the fungi the Northern Bettong consumes is associated with the roots of the Eucalyptus tree. Their favorite food would have to be the truffles because the truffles make up about half of the Northern Bettong's diet.

Breeding

It is believed that these creatures reach sexual maturity at around five or six months of age. They're able to breed at any time of year and usually produce two to three litters in a year, consisting of just one offspring. The female is pregnant for about 21 days or three weeks. Afterwards, her young spend 110-115 days in their pouch. The life span of the Northern Bettong is usually about six years.

Habitat

The Northern Bettong calls the wet tropics in North Queensland home, which is in the continent of Australia. Since these animals rely on truffles, usually from Eucalyptus roots, they have to reside in eucalyptus woodland or in forests with tall trees. Their populations live in four regions or areas: the greater Ravenshoe area, Mt. Carbine, Coane Range and Mt. Windsor, although they're not very large. Historically, the populations of these marsupials extended from Rockhampton to their present location in the North. The populations of the Northern Bettong are slowly declining.

This species tends to be solitary. It builds three or four nests, out of leaves, grass, and bark, underneath grass trees or thick shrubs, and uses them at random. Since they're nocturnal, they stay in their nests throughout the day. These animals don't hibernate. At the moment, the Northern Bettong can't really migrate because they depend on the fungi that originates from the eucalyptus tree and it is already scarce, partly because of forest fires. Foxes, dogs and cats are the Northern Bettong's main predators.

Problems

These species are declining due to several reasons. Forest fires that are used to maintain their habitat destroy their main food source. There are also feral pigs that compete for the truffle and alter the habitat of the Northern Bettong. These animals aren't too strong, so when they're encountered by predators such as foxes and cats, they don't stand a chance. Deforestation, either for residential development, agriculture or forestry, is another big issue that affects their survival. Cattle grazing alters the ground and makes it difficult for the Northern Bettong to find places to build their nests. Since they're habitat is in a tropical area, climate change is a serious threat because it changes the conditions these animals are used to. Northern Bettongs are K-related species, so if the climate changes too fast, they may not adapt and die off.

Solutions

Most of the conservation efforts involve researching the species further in depth such as their susceptibility to disease, genetics, and interactions with predators. Raising public awareness, re-introducing the species, monitoring population trends, practicing forest fire management, reducing the impact of predators and competitors, and encouraging community involvement in conserving the species are other solutions. The WWF (world wildlife foundation) has engaged in a project with scientists at James Cook University, the Department of Environmental and Heritage Protection, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, local indigenous, and NRM groups to conserve the Northern Bettong. The scientists from JCU have created a system of molecular technology that will allow the tracking of these animals and their distribution. Breeding programs do exist and the video below is actually one of them.

Video

Bettong Joey Project

Sources



"Alloteropsis Semialata Plant." Everystockphoto. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <http://www.everystockphoto.comwww.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=17084077>.

AnimalWonders Montana. "Bettong Joey Project." YouTube. YouTube, 22 Oct. 2013. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ag26i07LMDU>.

"Bettongs Bounce Back From Extinction in Mulligans Flat." Biodiversity Conservation. N.p., 23 May 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <https://biodiversityconservationblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/bettongs-bounce-back-from-extinction-in-mulligans-flat/>.

"Biodiversity." Bettongia Tropica — Northern Bettong. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=214>.

"GILBERT'S POTOROO - AUSTRALIA'S MOST ENDANGERED MAMMAL." Gilbert's Potoroo. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <http://www.potoroo.org/ecology.html>.

"Northern Bettong." - Queensland Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Find+out+about/Animals+of+Queensland/Mammals/Queenslands+vanishing+wildlife/Northern+Bettong#.VP7ccvzF-So>.

"Northern Bettong." - Stock Image Z902/0040. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/384413/view>.

"Northern Bettong." (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection). N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <https://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/wildlife/threatened-species/endangered/endangered-animals/northern_bettong.html>.

"Northern Bettongs." Wwf -. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/wildlife_and_habitats/australian_priority_species/northern_bettongs/>.

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