This small marsupial is one of the most fungi-dependent mammals anywhere in the world.
Only 40 years after its discovery in 1840, Gilbert’s potoroo disappeared completely, leading researchers to fear it has become extinct, another victim of the changes brought about by European colonization of Australia. More than a century later, in December 1994, the species was rediscovered in a small area of heath on the slopes of Mt Gardner, Western Australia. There are only three extant members of the genus Potorous, and only three genera in the family Potoroidae. With a global population of less than 100, Gilbert’s potoroo is one of Australia’s most threatened marsupials, and one of the world’s rarest mammals.
- Order: Diprotodontia
- Family: Potoroidae
- Population: They are endemic to the south-western part of Western Australia. It is currently restricted to a small area of approximately 1,000 ha in the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve on the Mt. Gardner promontory, near Albany, Western Australia. Within that small area, it occurs in at least five separate patches of long-unburnt, dense shrubland on the valley slopes.
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 27 cm
- Weight: 900-1,100g
Habitat and Ecology
Gilbert’s potoroo live in dense, long-unburt shrubland. They eat almost entirely fungi; making up 90% of analysed scat contents – the remainder was comprised of sand and root material, invertebrates and occasionally seeds from fleshy fruits.