Animal of the Week: the Burrowing Bettong
By Sara Umbrell, Art Director
Meet the boodie! These little guys are more formally known as the Burrowing Bettong and are native to Western and Southern Australia. They are small, kangaroo-like animals with thick, yellow-gray hair and a lighter tail with a white tip. Coming in at an average of a whopping 1.3 kg (2.86 lbs), boodies are part of the Macropod family, which are marsupials that consist of kangaroos and wallabies. They are the only species in this family to burrow and they live in a complex system of tunnels. Larger burrows can hold up to 20 boodies, but individuals will typically forage on their own.
Similar to other marsupials native to Australia, boodies are nocturnal. They are omnivores and will usually be found feeding on roots and fungi, as well as the leaves of various plant species. Boodies used to be found widespread across the arid areas of South, Central and Western Australia, but their populations have dwindled down due to expansive European settlement. The remaining populations can mainly only be found on small islands off of Western Australia.
The current conservation status of these little marsupials varies depending on the location in Australia. On the coast (where they are really only found), they are considered vulnerable and conservation dependent, but in the mainland they are considered extinct. Their populations are estimated to be around 19,000 right now and fluctuate with rainfall levels as their breeding cycles correspond to the amount of rainfall.