Typically hiding by day in dense vegetation, the long-nosed potoroo emerges under the cover of night to forage. It covers the forest floor with short hops, digging small foraging pits in the ground in search of underground fungal fruiting bodies, or truffles, that it thrives on (5) (6). Truffles live on the roots of woody trees and shrubs, enhancing the plant hosts’ ability to uptake nutrients through a symbiotic relationship known as a mycorrhiza (literally meaning “fungus-roots”). Spores held within ingested truffles pass through the gut of the potoroo and back out into the environment via faecal pellets. Thus, in spreading the fungal spores in its faeces, the long-nosed potoroo, like other rat-kangaroos, is considered a critical link in the forest’s ecological web (7). Although considered to be mycophagous by preference, the long-nosed potoroo also feeds on roots, tubers, insects, larvae, and other soft-bodied animals (6) (8). In addition, during the winter months, and especially on overcast days, it may forage during daylight hours (5) (6) (8). Individuals normally occupy small home ranges of two to ten hectares, and tend to be solitary, except during the breeding season (5) (6).
Breeding takes place year round, but peaks in early spring and late summer, with females capable of two reproductive bouts each year. A single young is born 38 days after mating, the longest gestation period known for any marsupial (1) (5) (6). After birth, the developing young crawls into its mother’s pouch, where it attaches itself to a teat and remains for the next four months. The young become independent after another five to six weeks, sexually mature at 12 months, and normally live for four to five years in the wild (1) (9) (5).