Animal Facts

Potoroo

Introduction

Potoroos are small marsupials native to Australia and Tasmania. They are rabbit-sized kangaroo-like animals with long noses. They require very thick undergrowth and mainly live in forest and shrub lands. They will live in both wet and dry forest.

Potoroos will breed with several mates but females only give birth to one offspring at time. They are nocturnal and will stay close to cover when they are active. They are omnivorous and will eat a wide variety of food. They will dig holes in the ground with their front feet to look for food. They also will nest in trees, shrubs, and on the ground.

Characteristics

Potoroos are small marsupials that are also called kangaroo-rats. This means they give birth very early and the young will stay in a pouch on the mother for further growth. Marsupials do not have long pregnancy periods like other mammals.

They are nocturnal and are usually only active at night. They will also stick close to brush and remain hidden when they are active. They are able to dig really well. This helps them to find food when fires or other disasters have destroyed food above ground. This makes potoroos able to survive harsh environments better than some other animals.

Potoroos are very solitary. They spend most of their lives alone unless they are breeding or raising young. They have home ranges that are approximately one tenth a square mile in size. Male and female home ranges will overlap, but females home ranges will not. They breed primarily in late winter to early summer.

Appearance

Potoroos are rabbit-sized marsupials that look like kangaroo-rats. They have very soft fur that is gray to brown in color. They have white stomachs. They have big claws that they use for digging up food.

Potoroos have very large back feet and powerful back legs that help them jump and run very quickly. They also have a long nose. They have a tail that is curved to help them carry large amounts of nesting material.

Life Stages

Potoroos have two life stages. The first life stage is the juvenile stage. This stage begins when the baby potoroos is born. The pregnancy period is only 30 days, but then the juvenile stays in the female’s pouch for around four months. The juvenile will then find its own territory. The juvenile will develop into an adult in one year. The adult life stage is the final life stage.

Life Span

There is very little information known about the lifespan of potoroos. There are no reports on how long they live in the wild, but it expected to be less than 10 years because of their enemies and habitat loss. Captive potoroos have been reported to live 14 to 15 years. This is usually in zoos where they are very well taken care of.

Size

Potoroos are rabbit-sized. They are n to 16 inches long from nose to where the tail begins and their tails are another 5 to 10 inches long. This makes their total length from 16 to 26 inches. They weigh one and a half to four pounds. There are not reported size differences between males and females.

Habitat

Potoroos can live in a wide range of habitats; however, thick cover close to the ground is best. They use this cover to build their nests. They build nests in bunches of grass, in shrubs, on the ground, and under bushes. In wet forest they will build their nests higher up so they can stay dry. They live in subtropical forest, warm forest, and open forest as long as there is thick cover close to the ground. They also prefer to live in areas with loose soil where they can easily dig. This soil type also provides adequate habitat for some of their favorite foods to grow.

Diet

Potoroos are omnivorous and will eat most types of food. They will eat a lot of plant material including: cranberries; grasses; other fruits; and nuts. They also eat a lot of foods that can be found below ground. They use their front claws to dig and find roots, tubers, and mushrooms, their favorite food. Grasses are usually only eaten during the winter when other food availability is low. Potoroos will also feed on insects and larvae in the winter when they can’t find their preferred foods. To find enough fungi to eat, potoroos will have a variety of foraging areas.

Friends and Enemies

Potoroos are very solitary animals and do not have a lot of friends. Potoroos are friendly with other potoroos at certain times of the year. When adult potoroos are breeding, males and females can be found in pairs. When female potoroos are raising babies, they will be friendly and found together. People are also friends of potoroos. People have started conservation programs to help restore populations of potoroos. They do this by controlling the red fox and feral cat populations, starting fire programs, and controlling invasive weeds that destroy their habitats.

Potoroos are very small and have a lot of enemies. Red foxes and domestic cats are two of the enemies of potoroos. They will attack both juveniles and adults.

Suitability as Pets

Potoroos are wild animals and are not suitable for pets. They require a variety of habitats and soil types to live. They are also nocturnal and would not be very fun to play with because they would be most active when people are sleeping. Potoroos are also protected by national and international treaties and laws.

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