Northern Bettong – Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

These adorable marsupials are endemic to Australia. The northern bettong can be found particularly in northern Queensland among the Wet Tropics rainforest. 

Northern Bettong

Within this environment, they can be found in the Lamb range and Mt. Spurgeon.

However, they are more likely spotted in the Lamp range located in southwest Cairns.

What makes them particularly difficult to spot is their living conditions, whereby they prefer underground burrows in the she-oaks forests and Eucalyptus woodlands. 

While they can reproduce throughout the year, they are typically solitary animals. 

In the wild, these northern bettongs usually feed on fungi truffles and can live between four to six years. 

The northern bettong itself can be categorized by its largely gray coat and its prehensile tail which they use to collect materials for nests. 

One of the most notable aspects of the species is that there are only 1,150-2,500 of these creatures left.

This population decline is chiefly due to predators, including feral cats, and irregular fires destroying their natural habitats and food sources. 

With all this in mind, this article will explore everything you need to know about northern bettongs, including facts, diets, habitats, and, of course, pictures!

What Class Of Animal Does A Northern Bettong Belong To?

These marsupials belong to the class of animals known as Mammalia. 

What Type of Animal Is A Northern Bettong?

The northern bettong (otherwise known as Bettongia tropica) is categorized as a marsupial or a ‘rat-kangaroo’.

Where Does A Northern Bettong Live?

The northern bettongs are native to Australia. In specific, their natural environment is restricted to the Wet Tropics rainforest located at the northernmost point of Queensland. 

Initially, there were four population ranges belonging to the northern bettong species.

These consisted of Mt. Spurgeon near Brooklyn, Mt. Windsor in Cooktown’s southwest, the Coane range’s Mount Zero-Taravale in northwest Townsville, and Cairns southwest’s Lamp Range.

Today, the northern bettong population is found primarily in the Mt. Spurgeon and the Lamp range.

Out of the two places, the Lamp range contains the majority of the population, whereas Mt. Spurgoen contains fewer than 100 individuals. 

How Many Northern Bettongs Are There In The World?

In the world, there are between 1,000 to 2,500 northern bettong species left in the wild.

In fact, some experts consider this population to be even lower, tipping the species towards impending extinction. 

Who Do Northern Bettongs Live With?

Generally, northern bettongs are considered solitary animals.

During the day, these endangered animals spend most of their time in their nests; however, at night, they emerge from their burrows to source fungi, truffles, and other foods. 

What Is A Northern Bettong’s Habitat?

Northern bettongs (otherwise known as rat-kangaroos) are usually located in the sclerophyll forests and rainforests of the Wet Tropics. 

In both these environments, the species make underground burrows their homes in Allocasuarina (sheoaks) forests and Eucalyptus woodlands. 

How Do They Reproduce?

Northern bettongs can reproduce through mating and then birthing offspring. 

Throughout the year, these endangered northern bettongs can reproduce, and, in an optimal year, can give birth up to three times.

Unlike some other mammals, there is no specific breeding season and each joey is born at a singular time. 

The joey itself attaches to its mother’s teat where it will remain for nearly 100 days.  

Since the northern bettong species population is considered endangered, the actual reproduction rates are potentially very low as a result. 

How Long Does A Northern Bettong Live?

In the wild, these animals can live between four to six years. With adequate care and habitat, they can for up to 15 years. 

What Is Their Conservation Status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the northern bettong (Bettongia tropica) species’ conservation status is considered endangered. 

Northern Bettong Fun Facts

How Cute Are They?

Northern bettongs are among the cutest animals found in Australia.

These are small in figure and feature plain gray coats of fur. On top of their head, they have long and small ears and a strong tail which they use to carry nesting materials. 

What Do Northern Bettongs Look Like?

The northern bettongs are typically considered to resemble small ‘rat-kangaroos’ since their tails are longer or slightly longer than their head-to-body length. 

The pelage and fur coating the creatures is a soft and gray color which can be shown as paler on the lower half and darker on the upper half of its body. 

One of the most notable features of the northern bettong is its low black crest located in the distal, and upper part of its prehensile tail. 

What gives them their cute appearance is their very short fore-limbs which are held close to their body when moving.

However, in contrast to their adorable appearance, they have long nails which can do some damage.

Although, they generally come in handy when digging. 

On top of this, they have a head held low, a rounded back, and delicate hind legs. Both female and male species share similar features. 

Northern bettongs can sometimes be mistaken for woylies that also inhabit western Australia. 

How Big Is A Northern Bettong?

When including their tail, northern bettongs have an overall length of about 25.2 inches (64 cm). 

How Do They Communicate?

Just like other bettongs, northern bettongs use their sense of smell to communicate with other bettongs. 

Since these bettongs use their hands to dig for food, their sense of touch is also extremely important. 

In addition, they are very vocal animals, with the female adults using a ‘tsk-tsk’ sound when calling for their joeys.

Likewise, they possibly use the pheromones in their scent glands, feces, and urine to communicate, too. 

To top it all off, they are very keen listeners, keeping a close ear out for predators at all times. 

How Much Does A Northern Bettong Weigh?

The average weight of a northern bettong is roughly 42.3 oz (1.2 kg). 

How Fast Can A Northern Bettong Move?

The precise speed of the northern bettong is unknown. However, they are generally quite speedy little animals. 

What Are Baby Northern Bettongs Called?

Similar to their cousins, a baby northern bettong is known as a joey. 

What are The Female and Male Names Of The Species?

Regardless of their gender, the female and male animals are known as northern bettongs. 

Are They Dangerous?

Luckily, northern bettongs aren’t dangerous. 

What Do They Eat?

Their diet consists mainly of truffles, mushroom scrub, grassroots, fruits, tubers, lilies, cockatoo grass, seeds, and sedges. 

However, their predators include feral cats, horses, pigs, and cattle. 

Would They Make A Good Pet?

No, these animals would not make a very good pet, nor should these animals be kept as pets, either.

In fact, Australian bettongs are considered endangered with the risk of becoming extinct. 

To prevent this, they need human support.

Instead of taking them away from their natural environments, their habitats should be restored to allow them to naturally repopulate themselves. 

Why Is The Northern Bettong Endangered?

Several factors contribute to the endangerment of the northern bettong. The most prominent factor is the predation of other animals such as feral cats. 

Additionally, climate change is another factor.

With extended periods of forest drought, this decreases the habitat of the northern bettong since it will lead to the decline of productivity in food sources. 

For instance, climate change is a direct consequence of the decline of the population of the Coane range. 

Another factor in the loss of habitat is caused by changes in fire regimes within wet forests.

In the Eucalyptus forests of the native Wet Tropics habitat located in North Queensland, there is a reduction in natural fire occurrences.

Due to the low-intensity and irregular fire regimes, there has been a capture of large areas in the forest overrun by growing plants, including lantana weed and Allocasuarina.

Due to the fires, there has been a decrease in grassy and open understory which these animals use for food and shelter. 

Did You Know

Northern bettongs play an important role in the ecosystem of forests.

They survive by eating fruiting fungi truffles. Once eaten, the spores are digested without causing any harm to the creatures.

They then germinate the spores and scatter them around the forests to be reintroduced within the ecosystem.

Thus, the fungal spores carry on regenerating to be eaten by further generations who live in the same forest environment. 

Within Queensland, Tinaroo Creek, Davies Creek, and Emu Creek are included within the habitat of the northern bettong. 

Final Thoughts

Northern Bettongs are small, adorable animals.

They are endemic to Australia and thrive in forestry areas where there is plenty of food and shelter.

However, due to several factors, including climate change and predation, these creatures are at risk of extinction – without human intervention, the future of these animals is uncertain.

Hopefully, this guide has informed you on everything you need to know about northern bettongs.

Olivia Kepner