THREATENED SPECIES OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY
BRUSH-TAILED BETTONGWOYLIEBettongia penicillata
Australia: Not listed.Northern Territory: Extinct.
The brush-tailed bettong is a smallmacropod (body mass 1.0-1.6 kg),yellow-grey above and paler below.The tail is well-furred, with a blackcrest most pronounced near the tailtip.
(J Gould © MuseumVictoria)
The species is now restricted to drysclerophyll forest with a denseunderstorey in southwest WesternAustralia. Translocated populationsare located in conservation reserves inWestern Australia and New SouthWales and on islands off the SouthAustralian coast.In the NT, it occurred in the GreatSandy and Tanami Deserts (Finlayson1961; Burbidge
Conservation reserves where reported
Known locations of the brush-tailedbettong
= pre 1970;
= post 1970
Brush-tailed bettongs inhabited a widerange of habitats from desert spinifexgrasslands to forests. During the daythey sheltered in grass-lined nests inspinifex hummocks or grass tussocks.In the NT, elderly Aboriginal peoplerecall this species occurring on sandplains and dunes supporting spinifexgrasslands (Burbidge
. 1988).Both the burrowing and brush-tailedbettongs feed heavily on the fruit-bodies of underground fungi and,therefore, are likely to have played animportant role in the dispersal of fungalspores within desert ecosystems.
The brush-tailed bettong is presumedto have become extinct in the NT inthe 1950s, following a broad-scaledecline extending over at least theprevious 50 years (Burbidge