Brush-tailed Bettong

(Bettongia penicillata)




Facts about this animal

The Brush-tailed bettong is a small macropode spedies, from its head to the end of its body it measures 30-38cm, plus its tail which is around 29-36cm long. Its fur is dense and long with a rich greyish-brown grading to a pale brown or white on its underparts. On its feet it has pale-brown spiky hairs and long claws. Its long prehensile tail has a black, brush-like crest along the top part towards the end. Unlike many types of animals the male and female Brush-tailed bettong look similar. Brush-tailed bettongs are strictly nocturnal, resting during the day in well-made and hidden nest consists of grass and shredded bark.


Brush-tailed Bettong are solitary animals. The only time that they are found together is during courtship and mating. They breed all year round and gives birth to its first young at the age of 170-180 days. Around 21 days after mating the female will give birth to one or two young, although she will only ever raise one. The young stay in their mother's pouch for about 98 days until fully developed. The young will then share her nest and suckle from her until the next baby leaves the pouch and takes its place. The female will produce young every 100 or so days after that time for the rest of her four to six year life.


In the wild, bettongs do not drink water or eat any green plant material. They are primarily fungivorous, their food consisting largely of the fruiting bodies of underground fungi, supplemented by bulbs, tubers, seeds, insects and resin, probably from Hakea shrubs.

Did you know?
that the Brush-tailed Bettong can use its tail to pick things up? The Brush-tailed Bettong has a prehensile tail, unlike the kangaroo or wallaby who use their tail only for balance.


Name (Scientific) Bettongia penicillata
Name (English) Brush-tailed Bettong
Name (French) Bettongie à queue touffue
Name (German) Bürstenschwanzkänguruh
Name (Spanish) Canguro-rata colipeludo
Local names Australia: Woylie
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Arthur Chapman



Range Australia, today only found in a few small pockets in south-west Western Australia, making its home in open forests and woodlands.
Habitat Grassland, heath and woodland
Wild population Between 2001 and 2006 the population decreased by 70-80%, approaching a total of 8,000 to 15,000 individuals (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 161 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo

Brush-tailed Bettong


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 83 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Arthur Chapman

Why do zoos keep this animal

Conservation breeding is the main reason for keeping the "woylie". Because the species was rated endangered, an International Studbook was established (in 1982), and ARAZPA, AZA and EAZA started operating coordinated breeding programmes. Several wild populations could be established from ex situ bred animals.