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88. Woylie

Bettongia penicillata


The woylie has experienced some wild population changes – it was removed from the threatened species list after extensive conservation work through the 70s, 80s and 90s; as it peaked with a population of 250,000 in the early 2000s, but has declined by 90% since.

Its main threats are from introduced predators; feral cats and red foxes in particular. Habitat destruction, disease, increased agricultural grazing land and possibly changed fire regimens put the populations under further stress. There are only eight extant species covering three genera, within the family Potoroidae. The woylie are mostly solitary, and occupy individual home ranges of around 20-40 hectares – an unusually large area for animals of their size. The woylie uses its prehensile curled tail to carry bundles of nesting materials to build their dome-shaped nest under the brush. They previously inhabited more than 60% of the Australian mainland – and now only remain in less than 1% of it. Research is focusing on the direct factors that lead to the drastic 90% decline over the last decade, though the species is still thriving in cat and fox proof sanctuaries.

  • Order: Diprotodontia
  • Family: Potoroidae
  • Population: <5,600
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 30-38cm
  • Weight: 1.1-1.6kg

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.15 (?)
ED Score: 9.83 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


Endemic to Australia, two subspecies are recognised, Bettongia penicillata penicillata, which occurred in south-eastern Australia, and is now considered extinct, and Bettongia penicillata ogilbyi which currently occurs as natural populations at Dryandra Woodland, and at Tutanning Nature Reserve in southwest Australia.

Habitat and Ecology

The Woylie is now restricted to forests, open woodlands, shrublands with a dense, low understory of tussock grasses or woody scrub. Woylies are mostly solitary and are nocturnal. Their diet consists primarily of the fruiting bodies of underground fungi, supplemented by bulbs, tubers, seeds, insects and resin, probably from Hakea shrubs.

Find out more

Loading species distribution map...

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Fire Invasive species

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
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