Ever Heard of a Bettong? They are "Ecosystem Engineers"

A bettong may resemble a rodent, but they are one of the many marsupials that call Australia home. While it can be hard for an outsider to identify a bettong among the dunnarts, pygmy possums, bilbys, stick-nest rats, woylies, brown antechinus, honey possums, red-tailed phascogales, numbats, quolls, bandicoots, bush rats, nailtailed wallabies, and other Aussie critters, they have a unique niche. Bettongs are fungivores, and eat mainly truffles. They are important for controlling and dispersing truffles and related species through the Australian forests.

The species called the northern bettong is critically endangered. There are only two known colonies of northern bettong, and one of them has only about 50 individuals left (the other has between 700 and 1000). The smaller colony appears to be reproducing at a much lower level than normal. Northern bettongs are suffering from several environmental stresses: competition from pigs that also eat truffles, predation by feral cats, invasive weeds, and of course wildfires. Read about the plight of the northern bettong at Atlas Obscura.

#bettong #Australia #endangered   

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