Woylie

woylieOther Name: Brush-tailed Bettong
Scientific Name: Bettongia penicillata
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered
Body length: 28–36 cm
Weight: 750–1850 g
Gestation: 21 days
Number of young: 1

Distribution: Very small patches of habitat in south-west Western Australia
Habitat: Open forest and woodland

Description: The Woylie is a small macropod with light brown hair and a black crest on its tail, which is 29–36 cm long. It has strong, clawed front feet which are used for digging for food and nest making. While they forage slowly, Woylies are capable of rapid movement if startled and can spring away at surprising speed.

Diet: Woylies are herbivores. They mostly feed on underground fungi but also tubers, bulbs and seeds. They can store food in their cheek pouches which contributes to the dispersal of fungal spores and seeds.

In the wild: Woylies forage for food at night and spend the day in their nests. The nest is dome-shaped and made out of grass or bark. It is concealed under a bush or other cover.

Males and females live in individual ranges which include a nesting and a feeding area. They come together for breeding. Females can breed anytime and produce up to three young per year. The joey stays in the pouch for about 90–110 days.

Threats: Predation by foxes and feral cats is a major cause of the decline in Woylie numbers, however, there may be a disease affecting Woylies which makes it easier for predators to catch them.

Habitat destruction also affects Woylie numbers.

At Perth Zoo: Perth Zoo is part of a conservation research project which is helping to identify the causes behind the decline in Woylie numbers in the south-west of Western Australia and to rebuild their numbers in the wild.

Woylies can be seen in the Nocturnal House.

Join the Perth Zoo-coordinated Night Stalk from 1 September to 16 October and spotlight for native animals in your local bushland. Night Stalk is a great way to become involved in community conservation action and to learn about our native animals, their habitat and their threats. Night Stalk is sponsored by Tronox.

Did you know? Although their tail looks like that of other kangaroo-like animals, a Woylie’s tail has one amazing difference. It can coil up like a possum’s tail to hold grasses and branches that the Woylie collects to make its nest.

Download the Woylie Fact Sheet (pdf).

The Woylie exhibit at Perth Zoo is proudly sponsored by Bauxite Resources Limited.

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