Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Extinct
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NT:Threatened Species of the Northern Territory-Brush-tailed Bettong, Woylie Bettongia penicillata (Pavey, C., 2006e) [Information Sheet].
VIC:Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statement 14 - Extinct Mammals 2 (Mansergh, I. & J. Seebeck, 2003) [State Action Plan].
    Documents and Websites
The action plan for threatened Australian macropods 2011-2021 (World Wildlife Fund for Nature - Australia (WWF), 2011).
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Extinct (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): August 2014 list)
NT: Listed as Extinct* (Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000 (Northern Territory): 2012 list)
SA: Listed as Endangered (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011 list)
VIC: Listed as Threatened* (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): May 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
VIC: Listed as Extinct (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013 list)
NGO: Listed as Extinct (The action plan for Australian mammals 2012)
Scientific name Bettongia penicillata penicillata [66658]
Family Potoroidae:Diprotodonta:Mammalia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Gray,1837
Infraspecies author  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map not available for this taxon.
Illustrations Google Images

Northern Territory: At the species level, Bettongia penicillata is listed as Extinct under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000.

Victoria: At the species level, Bettongia penicillata is listed as Threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.

Scientific name: Bettongia penicillata penicillata

Common name: Brush-tailed Bettong (south-east mainland)

The Brush-tailed Bettong (south-east mainland) was grey-brown in colour with pale yellowish-grey undersides. The sides of the short face and the bases of the ears had a reddish tinge. The base of the long tail was also grey-brown and the last two-thirds were dark brown to black above. The tail had a crested tip. Males and females were similar in appearance and no geographic variation has been reported (Christensen 1983).

Measurements of the Brush-tailed Bettong (south-east mainland) are unavailable, however, the similar Woylie (Bettongia penicillata ogilbyi) is a small, shy, nocturnal marsupial. The head and body length of the Woylie is 300–380 mm, its tail length is 290–360 mm and its weight is 1.1–1.6 kg (Christensen 1983).

This Brush-tailed Bettong (south-east mainland) was able to use its tail, curled around in a prehensile manner, to carry bundles of nesting material (Flannery 1990a).

The Brush-tailed Bettong (south-east mainland) was endemic to south-east mainland Australia (AMMSG 1996). At the time of European colonisation, the species occurred across southern Australia from South Australia, through north-west Victoria to central inland Queensland. The subspecies occurred on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range and Gould (1863) did not report the subspecies' existence between the NSW coast and the Great Dividing Range. The northern limit of distribution was about 20° S (i.e. around Charters Towers, Queensland) (Finlayson 1963).

The Brush-tailed Bettong (south-east mainland) was described as common in South Australia at the end of the nineteenth century and was gone by 1923. The subspecies has not been recorded in Australia since that time (AMMSG 1996).

The Brush-tailed Bettong (south-east mainland) was associated with grassland, heath and sclerophyll woodland (AMMSG 1996). Other accounts record the subspecies from open eucalypt forest with low woody scrub, tussock grass and occasional bare patches (Flannery 1990a).

The Brush-tailed Bettong (south-east mainland) was adapted to habitat subject to frequent fires. Its food and shelter plants were also well adapted to fire (Flannery 1990a).

The Brush-tailed Bettong (south-east mainland) bred prolifically throughout the year. Like many other kangaroos, it came into heat shortly after giving birth and kept embryos in a kind of suspended animation (called embryonic diapause) until conditions improved. Females were sexually mature at six months. The young spent 90 days in the pouch and there was an interval of about 100 days between each birth. Weaned joeys accompanied the mother at heel until they were displaced when new young left the pouch (Flannery 1990a).

The Brush-tailed Bettong (south-east mainland) had an unusual diet. The bulk of its nutrients (especially in summer and autumn) were derived from the fruiting bodies of underground fungi. The subspecies was also recorded eating bulbs, tubers, seeds, insects and resin. The animal had been seen burying seeds but it was not known if it ever recovered them (Flannery 1990a).

Brush-tailed Bettongs (south-east mainland) foraged from dusk until an hour or two before dawn (Christensen 1983).

Movement information is unavailable for the Brush-tailed Bettong (south-east mainland), however, the similar Woylie occupies distinct individual home ranges of 20–40 ha, which includes a nesting and a feeding area (Animal Diversity Web 2007).

During the day the Brush-tailed Bettong (south-east mainland) rested in a hidden nest in a shallow depression (often under a bush or similar cover) made of grass and shredded bark (Flannery 1990a).

The primary cause of the Brush-tailed Bettong's (south-east mainland) extinction seems to have been land clearing for agriculture (AMMSG 1996), changed fire regimes (Flannery 1990a), hunting (Jones 1924) and feral animal predation.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Bettongia penicillata penicillatain Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006ch) [Internet].

Animal Diversity Web (1999). Bettongia penicillata. [Online]. Available from:

Australasian Marsupial & Monotreme Specialist Group (AMMSG) (1996). Bettongia penicillata ssp. penicillata. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), eds. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. [Online]. Available from:

Christensen, P. (1983). Complete Book of Australian Mammals. Sydney, NSW: Angus & Robertson Publishers.

Finlayson, H.H. (1963). The Red Centre. Sydney, NSW: Angus and Robertson.

Flannery, T. (1990a). Australia's Vanishing Mammals. Surrey Hills, Australia: Readers Digest Press.

Gould, J. (1863). The Mammals of Australia. London, England: published privately.

Jones, W. (1924). The Mammals of South Australia. Parts 1-3. Adelaide, South Australia: Government Printer.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Bettongia penicillata penicillata in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Wed, 1 Oct 2014 08:18:59 +1000.