Woylie (brush-tailed bettong)
Woylies are small macropods with black crests on their tails that help distinguish them from burrowing bettongs (boodies). The woylie also has a lighter build and longer face than the boodie. Woylies perform important ecosystem services while foraging as they spread seeds and spores and turn over large quantities of soil, which improves water infiltration and nutrient recycling.
Diet and habitat
Woylies live mainly in woodlands with dense tussock grass and woody scrub understories. They are nocturnal, resting during the day in grass or bark -lined nests (pictured left). Woylies carry nesting material with their prehensile tails. They are herbivores and feed at night, mainly on the fruiting underground bodies of fungi. They also eat bulbs, tubers, seeds, insects and resin.
Woylies can breed all year round in good conditions. A female can produce a joey every 3½ months from six months of age to the end of her life. Woylies in the wild may live 4 to 6 years.
Woylies were once widespread across southern and western Australia but by the 1970s were restricted to three small areas in southwest Western Australia. To help ensure their survival, woylies have since been translocated to other areas and will be reintroduced to Dirk Hartog Island as part of the Return to 1616 project.
Since 2001 woylie numbers have dropped by 70 to 90%. Causes of this recent dramatic decline remain unclear, but include introduced predators and disease.