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08 Nov

Bettongs make a bouncing comeback

The Eastern Bettong is now doing better than ever at Mulligans Flat!

 

In the early days of 2012 when we first released 36 glassy eyed miniature kangaroos into the sanctuary, we had no idea that this number would grow to over 350 bouncy individuals. Mulligans Flat is now the only place on mainland Australia where you can see these species in the wild.

 

Bettong nests

Bettong nests

If you head to Mulligans Flat now and look closely at the healthy golden understory, you will notice the changes made by our bettongs. Orb shaped nests have been neatly crafted  into grass tussocks, BYO bark creations have been manufactured from pieces collected by their iconic semiproehensile tail. The ground has distinctive holes where these animals have frantically scratched away dirt with their mole-like arms, in search of a favourite delicacy–native truffles.

 

The patch of critically endangered ecosystem the marsupials now inhabit, Box Gum Grassy Woodlands, is benefiting from these diggings. With dirt tossing and turning every night (200 digs per bettong per night to be exact!), the soil is becoming saturated with oxygen, and nutrients are churning through the landscape. Water can now penetrate deep into the earth, and the spores of native fungi–that tree roots depend on to leech nutrients–are dispersing from tree to tree.

 

At the moment, ecologists are monitoring our bounding beauties to check how they are doing. Are they healthy? Do we have a growing population? These are some of the questions answered in this annual survey. At the moment we are waiting to hear back on the findings, but for now, here is an adorable photo of a baby bettong after a trap-and-release, with lead scientist–Adrian Manning.

 

I wonder what change our newly reintroduced residents–quolls, will make to the landscape. Watch this space.

 

 

 

Professor Adrian Manning with a juvenile bettong, photo by Don Fletcher