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The brush tailed bettong

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Onychorhynchus coronatus, 7 Oct 2020.

  1. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I've been doing a bit of reading about the Woylie / brush tailed bettong (Bettongia penicillata) as I try to familiarise myself with some of the more obscure and endangered Australian marsupials (I feel that I don't know enough about them) and I was wondering the following:

    Is the woylie common in zoos in ex-situ captive breeding programs outside of Australia ?

    Has anyone here worked with this species in captivity (or indeed in-situ) and if so what are these animals like to work with (in terms of temperament, care, challenges etc) ?

    For those of you who have seen these in zoos what do you find interesting (or not interesting as the case may be) about the bettong ?

    Is it another "little brown job" that bores you or is it charismatic enough that you would like to see more of these little mammals kept by zoos ?


    Look forward to your replies !
     
    Last edited: 7 Oct 2020
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  2. Yoshistar888

    Yoshistar888 Well-Known Member

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    The Wolyie is one of the most common marsupials outside of Australia infact. It can be found at tons of zoos worldwide in Europe alone there are 34 holders, I’d actually say they are more common outside of Australia than in it.

    I unfortunately have not had the chance to see one yet.

    Public interest wise it fares okay, it’s not a star but it can draw in moderate amounts of people.
     
  3. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I see, that is interesting, I sort of expected the opposite. I don't think I've ever seen one of these animals personally.

    I just checked and they are listed on Zootierliste as being kept by Bristol but I visited this zoo many years ago and I cannot remember whether I saw one.
     
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  4. Yoshistar888

    Yoshistar888 Well-Known Member

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    Australia likes to hold a ‘monopoly’ on its native wildlife to draw in tourists, exports of mammals and birds are rare, Reptiles and Amphibian exports are a grey area, I’m not sure of the legal status.

    The two mammal groups that are most overlooked by both the public and zoos both in and outside Australia are Dasyrids (specifically Anechtinus and Plaingales) and our Native Rodents.

    If you would like I can compose a quick list of endangered Australian native vertebrates (excluding fish) and their status in the wild, captivity and population trend.
     
  5. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I think I can imagine why the rodents may be overlooked but why are the Dasyrids ?

    There are some very charismatic and interesting species in the Dasyuridae family including the infamous Tasmanian devil and the not so infamous but still quite appealing quoll.
     
  6. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I really appreciate it but its ok, dont worry, but thank you for the offer. :)

    What I'm really trying to gauge here is what peoples perceptions of animals like the bettong and other small and obscure marsupials are and what exactly makes an animal charismatic (or not ) subjectively to people.
     
    Last edited: 7 Oct 2020
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  7. Yoshistar888

    Yoshistar888 Well-Known Member

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    Dasyridae is extremely diverse, Quolls and Devils are given good attention, other species such as Dibblers, Kowari and Red Tailed Phascogales are on the rise but there are a lot more dasyrids than these.

    Anechtinus, False Anechtinus, Dunnarts (apart from fat tailed), and a lot more.
     
  8. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    We have kept three species of bettong, and from an exhibition point of view, they have all been on our evening tour. They are very interactive and most people are really enjoy seeing and feeding them, as well as hearing stories about their diet and prehensile tail. If you are in luck, one or two might carry their nesting material in their tail. But in a nocturnal house I can imagine they might just look like another rat-like mammal.

    We had 2.0 woylies in our early days, but they did not work out. They are excellent climbers and soon were over the 1.8m wire fences despite an overhang. One night I thought I heard a possum moving along the top of the fence but it turned out to be the two woylies. By contrast eastern and rufous bettongs do not climb and can be contained with a 0.9m high fence.

    Woylies benefited in the West Australian government aerial fox baiting program, and were removed from the threatened list. In fact there was a worry they may become a pest, but the population crashed again. Not sure what the current situation.

    Woylies would be found in all the arid zone fenced sanctuaries that have sprung up over the last 25 years. In addition they can be kept privately under licence in a couple of states. As they are smaller than other bettongs, I think they remain the most popular bettong for nocturnal houses.
     
  9. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    Actually that is not true. Any species can be exported to zoos, there are conditions but they are not difficult to meet. Possibly the biggest one is that, mostly, they must be captive bred.
     
  10. Yoshistar888

    Yoshistar888 Well-Known Member

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    Then why are Australian animals hard to acquire overseas compare to other regions faunao_O?
    (I’m genuinely interested)
     
  11. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    I have no idea how Australia compares with other countries. All I know is that there are regulations that if met allow you to export anything, and these regulations are not designed to protect the tourism industry. For instance during a period when we were desperate to obtain koalas for our own international tourist market, significant numbers were exported to zoos in the UK, Switzerland, and Hong Kong.
     
  12. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for this excellent reply MRJ ! Very interesting to read !

    I'm glad to hear that visitors to your zoo do actually feel curious about the bettong and enjoy seeing and learning about them, this is very encouraging to hear.

    Also, quite interesting to hear your perspective on their display and the difference that zoos keeping them in nocturnal houses vs daytime enclosures might make to visitor perceptions. It is thought provoking actually as I hadn't considered that this could make a difference in visitor attitudes towards this and other similar species.

    Do you think that Australians due to their familiarity with the animal and marsupials in general may find them less "ratty" than for example Europeans or Americans who largely have less exposure or knowledge about marsupials ?

    Wow ! They sound like accomplished escape artists ! I take it that it is far better then to keep them within enclosed aviary style enclosures than open topped enclosures?

    Sad to hear that they seem to be on the decline but encouraged to hear that there has historically been efforts to erradicate the invasive predators which prey on this species. I admit I didn't really know much about bettongs until yesterday when I did a bit of reading but I already find them to be an intriguing little beast and am rooting for a successful outcome in their conservation.
     
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  13. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I should say that I'm still filling in my considerable knowledge gaps on the marsupials but I find the kowaris and dunnarts to be amazing little creatures (I don't think that I've ever seen either of these in the flesh so they've been added to my life list) .

    They are very beautiful and engaging in their appearance and clearly very voracious little desert predators. I'm very glad they are finally getting the conservation attention they so clearly deserve.
     
    Last edited: 7 Oct 2020
  14. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    To be clear we exhibit our bettongs on our evening tours so people see them after dark, although we have a bettong in our daily show.

    I don't think Australians are at all familiar with most Australian mammals. Most Australians are city dwellers, bettongs have been removed from most of their range by introduced foxes and cats, and are in any case nocturnal. From my experience almost nobody finds them ratty on an evening tour.

    Or maybe a strip of sheet metal or plastic around the top of the fence. At the time we were broke and had eastern bettongs so did not persevere.
     
    Last edited: 7 Oct 2020
  15. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    Brush-tailed Bettong are in the US, too. They are somewhat rare in zoos but they are found in the private trade in larger numbers.
     
  16. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    Last week I went to Shaldon and the woylies were one of my main targets for photography. I had seen them there soon after they arrived in January 2018, when I visited with @devilfish. I only got one grabshot then as they were quite shy. This time they were in the same indoor enclosure, but it had been darkened (presumably with reversed lighting) and the window had been covered over, leaving just a few viewing slots for visitors. There were at least 3 woylies on show (plus at least one more labelled in a normally lit enclosure, which was presumably in its nestbox). It took me some time to work out the best way to get an acceptable image, watching the animals, choosing the best slot to shoot through and working out the right lens and camera settings. I observed that the animals were happy to come close to the window, but quite skittish, able to move very fast particularly when chasing each other and capable of disappearing into dark corners and nestboxes without warning. This was my best image.
    Zootierliste says that the only other UK zoos with this species are Bristol and Birmingham, presumably in their nocturnal houses, but I have not seen them there.
     
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  17. EsserWarrior

    EsserWarrior Well-Known Member

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    From the U.S.'s standpoint, the brush-tailed bettong is on the Endangered Species List, so it cannot be easily transported over State borders for non-AZA facilities. I have spoken with several facilities that have housed the brush-tailed bettong, with all of them saying that it is incredibly hard to find other facilities to take in this species.

    Despite being harder to transport in the private trade, there appear to be more individuals than in accredited facilities.

    The brush-tailed bettong is a species I'm very interested in housing and educating with in the future, but the struggle to transport individuals and find homes for offspring is discouraging. I'd definitely participate in a captive-breeding program if other facilities would work alongside me.
     
  18. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Have you begun your own zoo ? If so what animals do you currently work with ?

    When you say the "private trade" do you mean that this species is being kept as a pet in the US ?
     
    Last edited: 7 Oct 2020
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  19. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Ah I see, what is the name of your zoo ?

    I'm really curious to know more about it and see what species you keep.

    That is a shame but it does seem to me (it might be a pretty superficial assesment though as I am only seeing it from the outside) that there is a lot more public concern for endangered species within Australia and that there is quite a strong support for their conservation.

    I suppose it shouldn't come as a suprise that the average Australian may not know the names or habits of all of the native mammals as there are just so many marsupials species out there.

    Yes, could be, but they do sound like very talented escape artists which is quite interesting to learn.
     
  20. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    That is a brilliant shot @gentle lemur ! I think they are really quite a photogenic animal despite their shyness / skittishness.

    What is their enclosure like at Shaldon in your opinion ?

    In the caption to your photo you mention that these are kept with lemurs which is quite an interesting mix.