This nocturnal marsupial is primarily a solitary animal, with individuals socialising only for courtship, mating and rearing young (5) (9). The brush-tailed bettong breeds throughout the year and females produce a maximum of three young each year. A single young is usually born, (although twins have been observed), after a gestation period of around 21 days (10). Like all marsupials, the young are highly undeveloped at birth, but they are able to crawl up the mother’s stomach to her pouch where they remain for approximately the next 90 days, feeding on milk and developing within the protected pouch (5) (10). Female brush-tailed bettongs reach maturity at about six months of age, and this species is thought to live for four to six years in the wild (10).
Interestingly, underground fungi form the bulk of the brush-tailed bettong’s diet (11), which it locates using its keen sense of smell and digs up with its robust front claws (5). The brush-tailed bettong has a special stomach containing abundant bacteria, to enable the breakdown of the fungi and the release of digestible nutrients (5). Fungal spores are not digested and are deposited in faeces in a new location, thus creating a mutually beneficial relationship. Fungi are also beneficial to trees as they assist with nutrient uptake from the soil, so in dispersing the fungi, the brush-tailed bettong is actually keeping Australia’s forests healthy (5). As well as fungi, the brush-tailed bettong feeds on bulbs, tubers, seeds, and insects (11). It is believed to rarely drink water in the wild and instead extracts all the water it needs from its diet (12).