Truffles the Long-nosed Potoroo joey may be small, but she is being groomed for a big role in keeping the Australian bush healthy.
Born at Taronga to mother, Dotty, Truffles is being hand-raised by keeper, Elli Todd and has started revealing the fascinating story of Long-nosed Potoroos to visitors to Taronga’s Australian Nightlife exhibit.
Nearly five months old, Truffles was named after the famous root fungus, the truffle. Long-nosed Potoroos not only eat tree root funguses, they also help distribute them through the forest in their droppings to keep the bush healthy.
These tiny bush-dwellers were once common in Sydney, but land clearing and introduced predators like cats and foxes have driven them out of the area. They are found along the east coast of Australia only in fragmented populations, although populations remain healthy in Tasmania.
Truffles will grow to be about a kilo. At the moment she is still feeding on a milk formula, but also eats sweet potato and carrot. As she gets older, Truffles will start to eat seeds, banana, corn and apple.
Her surrogate mum, Elli said: “It’s hard to believe such a small animal has such a big role in the forest. This is one of the best examples of how important Australia’s shy nocturnal wildlife are to the bush.”
“It’s suggested that where potoroos have disappeared, the vegetation is now less varied and dense.”
Potoroos like to live where there’s lots of low bush and grass where they can hide. They make shallow burrows similar to the bandicoot, but are actually related to the kangaroo.
Ellie said: “Imagine the tiny 1kg potoroo being related to the iconic 90kg Red Kangaroo?”
Visitors to Taronga can meet Truffles and learn more about how to protect Potoroos and keep the Australian bush healthy at the Australian Nightlife exhibit.