Potoroidae – Bettongs & allies

Rabbit-sized marsupials are also known as potoroos or rat-kangaroos

These animals share a taxonomic relationship with the better-known macropodids, including kangaroos and wallabies, highlighted by their distinctive locomotion and physical adaptations. However, potoroidae have carved out their own niche within the Australian ecosystem, showcasing unique behaviors and dietary preferences that distinguish them from their larger cousins.

Unlike the macropodids, where the difference in limb size between the forelimbs and hindlimbs is stark, potoroidae exhibit a more balanced physique. While they possess large hind feet and powerful hind limbs designed for hopping, the disparity with their forelimbs is less pronounced. This anatomical configuration allows them greater versatility in movement. These animals adopt a bipedal, rabbit-like hop that is both efficient and agile at lower speeds. When the need arises to escape predators or quickly cover large distances, they can transition to a swift, bounding hop, utilizing their robust hind legs to prop themselves forward with considerable speed and agility.

Potoroidae are primarily nocturnal, emerging from their nests or burrows under the cover of darkness to forage for food. Their diet is remarkably diverse, demonstrating a flexible approach to nutrition that allows them to thrive in various habitats. As omnivores and herbivores, they consume a wide range of foods, including fungi, tubers, seeds, and insects. Fungi, in particular, play a crucial role in their diet, with some species, such as the Bettongia, specializing in mycophagy (the consumption of fungi).

Being marsupials, females possess a well-developed pouch where the young, called joeys, continue to develop after birth. Unlike some other marsupials, the pouch of the Potoroidae opens anteriorly, providing a secure environment for the developing offspring. This reproductive trait ensures that despite their relatively small size and numerous predators, potoroidae can maintain viable populations.