Bettongia penicillata penicillata Gray, 1837:584

Brush-tailed bettong, Woylie, Brush-tailed rat-kangaroo, Pencil-tailed bettong (Krefft, 1866:20), Brush-tailed hypsiprymnus (Waterhouse, 1841:183), pattuck (Murray-Darling aboriginals) (Krefft, 1866:20), Tufted-tailed rat-kangaroo (Waterhouse, 1846:212), kurka (Kaurna (Adelaide); Teichelmann & Schürmann, 1840; Tunbridge, 1991:27), kurlka (Kaurna (Adelaide); Tunbridge, 1991:27), kulka (Barngarla (Eyre Peninsula); Schürmann, 1844; Tunbridge, 1991:28), ulka (Tunbridge, 1991:57)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Bettongia penicillata Gray, 1837:584; Hypsiprymnus penicillatus Gray, 1837:584; Bettongia penicillata francisca Finlayson, 1957:552


Conservation Status


Last record: c.1900 or later; between 1920's and 1971 (St. Francis Island) (Maxwell et al. 1996); c.1961-1963 (Great Sandy and Tanami Deserts) (Burbidge et al., 1988:22); 1980's (unconfirmed reports) (Eyre Peninsula) (Maxwell et al., 1996)

IUCN RedList status: Extinct



New South Wales, Northern Territory, South Australia (including St. Francis Island), Victoria & Western Australia, Australia

Type locality: N.S.W. (Calaby & Richardson, 1988:55)


"central and south-eastern Australia"

(de Torres & Marlow, 2023:294)


Biology & Ecology

 "Ecology: tropical, subtropical, temperate, open forest, open woodland, open scrub, nocturnal, terrestrial, fungivore, omnivore; found in tussock or shrubby understorey, nest builder, solitary."

(Calaby & Richardson, 1988:56)



Holotype: BMNH (adult male; skin & skull) (Calaby & Richardson, 1988:55)






Original scientific description:

Gray, J. E. (1837). Description of some new or little known Mammalia, principally in the British Museum Collection. Mag. Nat. Hist. (ns) 1: 577-587.


Other references:

Some of the literature here, from south-west WA probably refers to B. p. ogilbyi and needs to be expunged.

Abbott, Ian. (2001). Aboriginal names of mammals species in south-west Western Australia. CALMScience 3(4): 433-486. [some of the names refer to this subspecies?; you may need to manually search their database for this paper]

Abbott, Ian. (2008). Historical perspectives of the ecology of some conspicuous vertebrate species in south-west Western Australia. Conservation Science W. Aust. 6(3): 1-214.

"An Old Bushman" [Morton, William Lockhart]. (1861). Notes of a tour in the Wimmera District. The Yoeman, and Australian Acclimatizer 1. ["kangaroo rat" might refer to this species (Bennett et al. 2006)]

Anonymous. (1964). A preliminary list of rare mammals including those believed to be rare but concerning which detailed information is still lacking. IUCN Bulletin 11(Special Supplement): 4 pp.

Anonymous. (1977). Terrestrial native mammals of Western Australia. S.W.A.N.S. 7(1): 7-8. [a mere listing as being native to WA]

Anonymous. (1970). Kangaroos & wallabies facing extinction. S.W.A.N.S. 1(2): 11.

Bennett, Andrew F., Lumsden, L. F. and Menkhorst, Peter W. (1989). Mammals of the mallee region of south-eastern Australia, pp. 191-220. In: Noble, J. and Bradstock, R. (eds.). Mediterranean Landscapes in Australia: Mallee Ecosytems and Their Management. CSIRO. [relevant citation?]

Bennett, Andrew F., Lumsden, Linda F. and Menkhorst, Peter W. (2006). Mammals of the Mallee Region, Victoria: past, present and future. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 118(2): 259-280.

Brown, Steven P. and Wells, Roderick T. (2000). A middle Pleistocene vertebrate fossil assemblage from Cathedral Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 124(2): 91-104.

Burbidge, Andrew A. and Fuller, Phillip J. (1984). Finding out about Desert Mammals. S.W.A.N.S. 14(1): 9-13.

Andrew A. Burbidge; Ken A. Johnson; Phillip J. Fuller, and R. I. Southgate. (1988). Aboriginal Knowledge of the Mammals of the Central Deserts of Australia. Aust. Wildl. Res. 15: 9-39.

Butler, W. H. and Merrilees, D. (1971). Remains of Potorous platyops (Marsupialia, Macropodidae) and other mammals from Bremer Bay, Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 54(2): 53-58.

Calaby, J. H. and Richardson, B. J. (1988). Potoroidae, pp. 53-59. In: Walton, D. W. (ed.). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 5. Mammalia. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. x + 273 pp. [p. 55-56]

Christensen, P. (1995). Brush-tailed Bettong, Bettongia penicillata, pp. 292-293. In: Strahan, Ronald (ed.). The Mammals of Australia. Chatswood, N.S.W.: Reed Books. 756 pp.

de Torres, P. J. and Marlow, N. J. (2023). Brush-tailed Bettong, Bettongia penicillata, pp. 293-295. In: Baker, Andrew M. and Gynther, Ian C. (eds.). Strahan’s Mammals of Australia (4th ed.). Wahroonga, NSW: Reed New Holland Publishers. 848 pp.

DEECA [Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action]. (2023). Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 Threatened List: June 2023. Published report by The State of Victoria Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, Melbourne, Victoria.

Finlayson, Hedley Herbert. (1958). On Central Australian mammals (with notice of related species from adjacent tracts). Part III - The Potorinae. Rec. S. Aust. Mus. 13: 235-302.

Finlayson, Hedley Herbert. (1961). On central Australian mammals. Part IV. The distribution and status of central Australian species. Records of the South Australian Museum 14: 141-191.

Frith, H. J. (1979). Wildlife Conservation, revised edition. Angus & Robertson. xiv + 416 pp. [p. 108, p. 335-336 (species account)]

Glauert, Ludwig. (1933). The distribution of the marsupials in Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 19: 17-32.

Henry-Hall, N.J. (1990). Nature conservation reserves in the Eastern Goldfields, Western Australia (southern two-thirds of CTRC System 11). Unpublished report submitted to the EPA Red Book Task Force. Environmental Protection Authority, Perth, Western Australia. [Appendix 13]

Hoser, Raymond T. (1991). Endangered Animals of Australia. Mosman, NSW: Pierson & Co. 240 pp. [pp. 202-203]

Iredale, Tom and Troughton, Ellis Le Geyt. (1934). A check-list of the mammals recorded from Australia. Mem. Aust. Mus. 6: i-xii, 1-122.

Jackson, Stephen and Groves, Colin. (2015). Taxonomy of Australian Mammals. Clayton South, Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing. 529 pp. [p. 136-137]

Janis, Christine M. (1990). Correlation of cranial and dental variables with dietary preferences in mammals: a comparison of macropodoids and ungulates. Mem. Qd. Mus. 28(1): 349-366.

Joslin, Paul and Maryanka, Daphne. (1968). Endangered Mammals of the World: Report on Status and Action Treatment. IUCN Publications, New Series, Supplementary Paper No. 13: 34 pp.

Krefft, Gerard. (1864). Catalogue of mammalia in the collection of the Australian Museum. Sydney.

Krefft, Gerard. (1866). On the vertebrated animals of the lower Murray and Darling, their habits, economy, and geographical distribution. Transactions of the Philosophical Society of New South Wales 1862-1865: 1-33.

Krefft, Gerard. (1871). The Mammals of Australia, Illustrated by Harriett Scott and Helena Forde for the Council of Education ; With a Short Account of All the Species Hitherto Described. Sydney: Thomas Richards, Government Printer.

Maxwell, S., Burbidge, A.A. and Morris, K. 1996. The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes. Australasian Marsupial and Monotreme Specialist Group, IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland, Switzerland.

Menkhorst, Peter W. (2009). Blandowski’s mammals: Clues to a lost world. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 121(1): 61-89.

Menkhorst, Peter W. and Beardsell, C. M. (1982). Mammals of southwestern Victoria from the Little Desert to the coast. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 94: 221-247. [relevant citation?]

Monks, Carly Elizabeth. (2018). Fire and Fauna: Investigating Aboriginal land management in the Northern Sawn Coastal Plain, Western Australia. BA (Hons) thesis, School of Social Sciences, Archaeology, The University of Western Australia. xvii + 346 pp.

Ogilby, J. Douglas. (1892). Catalogue of Australian Mammals, with Introductory Notes on General Mammalogy. Australian Museum, Sydney: Catalogue No. 16: viii + 142 pp.

Pledge, Neville S. (1990). The Upper Fossil Fauna of the Henschke Fossil Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum (Proceedings of the De Vis Symposium) 28(1): 247-262.

Reed, Elizabeth H. and Bourne, Steven J. (2000). Pleistocene fossil vertebrate sites of the south east region of South Australia. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 124(2): 61-90.

Reed, Elizabeth H. and Bourne, Steven J. (2009). Pleistocene Fossil Vertebrate Sites of the South East Region of South Australia II. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 133(1): 30-40.

Ride, W. D. L. (1970). A Guide to the Native Mammals of Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Schürmann, C. W. (1844). Vocabulary of the Parnkalla Language Spoken by the Natives Inhabiting the Western Shores of Spencer's Gulf etc. Adelaide: Thomas.

Scott, Peter (ed.). (1965). Preliminary List of Rare Mammals and Birds, pp. 155-237. In: The Launching of a New Ark. First Report of the President and Trustees of the World Wildlife Fund. An International Foundation for saving the world's wildlife and wild places 1961-1964. London: Collins.

Sharman G.B., Murtagh C.E. and Weaver C.M. 1980. The chromosomes of a Rat-kangaroo attributable to Bettongia tropica (Marsupalia: Macropodidae). Australian Journal of Zoology 28, 59-63.

Teichelmann, C. G. and Schürmann, C. W. (1840). Outlines of a Grammar, Vocabulary and Phraseology, of the Aboriginal Language of South Australia, Spoken by the Natives in and for Some Distance Around Adelaide: Adelaide: Thomas.

Thomas, Oldfield. (1888). Catalogue of the Marsupialia and Monotremata in the collection of the British Museum (Natural History). London: British Museum (Natural History). xiii + 401 pp, including 33 pls.

Troughton, Ellis Le Geyt. (1943). The kangaroo family. Rat Kangaroos, 2. The Australian Museum Magazine 8(6): 204-207.

Tunbridge, Dorothy. (1991). The Story of the Flinders Ranges Mammals. Kenthurst: Kangaroo Press. 96 pp. [p. 19, p. 27, p. 28, p. 57 (species account)]

Wakefield, Norman A. (1966). Mammals of the Blandowski Expedition to north-western Victoria, 1856–57. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 79(2): 371-391.

Wakefield, Norman A. (1967). Some taxonomic revision in the Australian marsupial genus Bettongia (Macropodidae), with description of a new species. Vict. Nat. 84: 8-22.

Waterhouse, George Robert. (1841). Marsupialia, or Pouched Animals (Mammalia, vol. XI). In: Jardine, William (ser. ed.). The Naturalist's Library (vol. XXIV). Edinburgh: W.H. Lizars / London: Henry G. Bohn. xvi + 324 pp.

Waterhouse, George Robert. (1846). A Natural History of the Mammalia. Volume 1, Containing the Order Marsupiata or Pouched Animals. London: Hippolyte Baillière. 553 pp + 20 pls.

Wayne, A., Friend, T., Burbidge, A., Morris, K. & van Weenen, J. (2008). Bettongia penicillata. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. ( Downloaded on 14 October 2012.

Wood Jones, Frederic. (1924). The Mammals of South Australia. Part II. The Bandicoots and the Herbivorous Marsupials (The syndactylous Didelphia). Adelaide: Government Printer. 2: 132-270. [8 August 1924] [p. 212-215]


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