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The Boodie (Burrowing Bettong)

We do not usually associate Kangaroos with burrowing, but there are a number of their smaller relatives that do burrow.

One of these is the Boodie, Bettongia lesueur.  Another name for this animal is Lesueur’s Bettong. 

Size

A typical Boodie weighs about 1.5 Kg (3.3 lb).  They are around 40 centimetres (15 Inches) long.

Diet

The Boodie eats tubers, bulbs and roots along with other plant parts like leaves and fruit.  They do not eat as much fungus as many animals in the group.  Although predominately herbivorous, it will eat Termites and other insects.

They are not hunters, but will eat carrion including dead Rabbits.  They will also dig up Turtle eggs.

Ecosystem Engineer

In looking for food, the Boodie digs a lot and generally greatly benefits the soil.  Its diggings allow water to enter the soil more easily.  It also buries leaves and other dead plant material.  This used to be a significant factor in the ecosystems of inland Australia.

Range

When this animal was discovered, it ranged over large parts of all the mainland states of Australia, and the Northern Territory as well as some offshore Islands.  They became extinct on the mainland on the 1960’s.

Boodie Island

This island is off the coast of Western Australia, to the north of Shark Bay. The Island was named after the animal, but after the Black Rat, Rattus rattus, was introduced to the island, the Boodie became extinct.

The Rat was exterminated and the reintroduced Boodies
have again made this island their home.

Competition with Rabbits

It used to be believed that this animal was unable to compete with the introduced Rabbit, but careful observations of the two species casts considerable doubt on this belief.  It seems that the two species are compatible.

There is some overlap in their diets, but not enough to wipe either species out.

Predators

The main cause of the extinction of this species on the mainland appears to be a combination of predation by Foxes and feral Cats, and the major changes to the inland environment caused by grazing with sheep and cattle.

The main cause of the extinction may be the removal of high ground cover by the grazing animals.

Shark Bay

52,000 Hectares of the Peron Peninsular was fenced off and the Foxes, Cats, Goats and Rabbits in the Area were exterminated.  The reintroduced Boodies are doing well on this area.  This is accessible on foot.

Some fenced sanctuary areas in South Australia now have Boodies as well. 

However, with the changed environment of inland Australia it is unlikely that this animal will be able to survive in unprotected areas until we have made some major changes.