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Information Species Best place Identification Habitat Foraging Reproduction Sociality Readings
Long-nosed potoroo 
The Long-nosed Potoroo showing the pointed snout and bare nose which give it its common name.
French Island habitat
Open saltmarsh and grassland bordering denser heath habitat on French Island.
Aeiral of French Island
Long-nosed Potoroo habitat on French Island is the denser wooded areas.
Geographic distribution of the long-nosed potoroo
Geographic distribution of the Long-nosed Potoroo represented by coverage of 1:250,000 map sheets of Australia (see www.ga.gov.au for Australian maps).

General information

Kangaroos are marsupials and belong to the Family Macropodidae (i.e. big feet) that is grouped with the Potoroidae (potoroos, bettongs, rat-kangaroos) and Hypsiprymnodontidae (musky rat-kangaroo) in the Super-Family, Macropodoidea. This comprises around 50 species in Australia and a dozen or more in New Guinea.  Some of the smaller species, such as Yellow-footed Rock-Wallabies, Burrowing Bettongs, accompanied Pig-footed and Golden Bandicoots, Bilbies and possibly Hairy-nosed Wombats into extinction with the advent of pastoralism. However, the largest species remain in much of their original range with the grey kangaroos expanding inland as grazing habitat increased and coastal habitat was lost in clearance for agriculture. The defining feature of the kangaroo family is that they are the largest vertebrates to hop (both currently and from what we know from palaeontology).


The Bettongs, Potoroos and Musky Rat-Kangaroo are collectively known as the Rat-kangaroos. In fact, they form two families, the Potoroidae, which includes all the potoroos and bettongs, and, the Hypsiprimnodontidae, whose sole living representative is the Musky Rat-kangaroo. They are observationally distinguished from the kangaroos and wallabies by their diminutive body size but the largest species, the Rufous Bettong, eclipses the smallest Rock-wallabies, the Monjon and Narbelek. In general, they retain more 'primitive' ancestral characteristics with a partly prehensile tail to entrap grasses and sticks for nesting and a simpler stomach (and consequently richer diet). The forelimbs and hindlimbs are more similar in size than the gross differences in the kangaroos and wallabies, and so bounding as well as hopping is a mode of progress. Perhaps possum-kangaroo is more accurate but the first European observers were more familiar with rats than possums.


The Potoroos are in the critical weight range (<5.5 kg) that have suffered range contraction and extinction following the introduction of European farming practices and invasive species like foxes and cats. One species, the Broad-faced Potoroo (Potorous platyops) from the southern coasts of Western and South Australia quickly became extinct and was last collected from the wild in 1875. Gilbert's Potoroo also from Western Australia was thought to have suffered the same fate but was rediscovered in 1994. Equally surprising was the late discovery of a new species, the Long-footed Potoroo, in Victoria in 1967. The only widespread species, first described to Europeans from Botany Bay in 1789, is the Long-nosed Potoroo which is found in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.



Long-nosed Potoroo (Mainland)

Potorous tridactylus tridactylus ('three-toed potoroo')


Best place to see

French Island National Park, Victoria

The 11,000 ha French Island National Park is only accessible by boat. A ferry leaves Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula about 78 km and 1.5 h drive from Melbourne. The ferry ride is about 10-12 minutes and the ranger station is located near the pier on French Island. The island has a diverse habitat of heaths and woodlands fringed by saltmarshes and mangroves. The Park supports not only a large population of Long-nosed Potoroos but also Koalas. There is accommodation (e.g. bed and breakfast) and camping on the island.



Males to 1.6 kg (average 1.2 kg) and females to 1.4 kg (average 1.0 kg). The overall back colour is a grizzled dark grey-brown. The grizzled appearance arises from the longer hairs having grey bases with a broad white band and a black tip.  The underfur is dense and blue-grey with a grey or rufous tip.  The common name is derived from the long narrow face which is grey and the ‘extended’ nose. The black naked skin of the nose tip (nares) extends backwards along the muzzle in a narrow band for about 1 cm. The ears are short and rounded ears with dark brown backs.  The chin, chest and abdomen are white to grey-white arising from dual-tone hairs with a blue-grey base and a white tip.  The hands and feet are grey or brown-grey.  The tail is relatively naked from a grey base through a brown body to a black tip. The presence of a white tail tip is a function of latitude - very rare in southern Queensland, but common in Tasmania (almost 80% have a white tail tip). The claws of the fore-feet are very long and slender.



To be added


Foraging behaviour



Reproductive behaviour



Social organisation



Further readings

Bennett, A.F., Baxter, B.J., 1989. Diet of the long-nosed potoroo, Potorous tridactylus (Marsupialia: Potoroidae), in south-western Victoria. Australian Wildlife Research 16, 263-271.

Claridge, A.W., Cork, S.J., 1994. Nutritional value of hypogeal fungal sporocarps for the long-nosed potoroo (Potorous tridactylus), a forest-dwelling mycophagous marsupial. Australian Journal Of Zoology 42, 701-710.

Claridge, A.W., Seebeck, J.H., Rose, R., 2007. Bettongs, Potoroos and the Musky Rat-kangaroo. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.

Long KI (2001) Spatio-temporal interactions among male and female long-nosed potoroos, Potorous tridactylus (Marsupialia: Macropodoidea): mating system implications. Australian Journal Of Zoology 49, 17-26.