Also known as the red-necked wallaby, Bennett's wallaby is probably seen more often than not on Knocklofty if you're observant. It's easily distinguished from the rufous-bellied pademelon by its more upright human-like posture, bouncy hops and long thick tail, which twitches a little at the end when the animal seems uncertain whether to bolt or to relax.
Wikipedia has some fascinating info on this endearing little animal, including that an adult may adopt the young of another adult, and that these animals may undergo a reconciliation process after conflict, which includes engaging in "affinitive contacts". Seems like humans could learn something from the animals.
Apparently, the rufous-bellied pademelon has the broadest distribution of any mammal within Tasmania. They are more hunched and mouse-like than wallabies and scuttle (quite fast) rather than bounce. I commonly see them on the eastern edge around Fiona Allen Memorial Walk, where they come out to feed at dusk down on the grassy slope.
Being marsupials, the young spend their first few weeks of life in a pouch. At weaning, the mother can become quite aggressive with the youngster and chase it away. They must have hearts of steel - young pademelons are irresistibly cute.
I have never seen these on Knocklofty - or anywhere in the wild for that matter. I've only seen them on a Bonorong night tour. They are seriously cute and move astonishingly fast. They are extinct on the mainland (in the wild).
Smaller than a pademelon, this marsupial is nocturnal and hides very effectively during the day. They eat mostly fungi and live in nests. They can have several nests,
sometimes using 5 or 6 nests at one time. They can carry lightweight nesting materials with their tails.
They are generally solitary creatures and females will generally not allow males to approach except when it is the mating season. They give birth after a gestation period of only 3 weeks. They probably live 3-6 years in the wild.
EASTERN BARRED BANDICOOT
Perameles gunnii gunnii
Easily identifiable by the stripes on its rump, this subspecies occurs only in Tasmania. Its name comes from "banda couta", meaning "pig rat" in Southern India.
Its pouch faces backwards to keep it clean while it digs for food. It eats insects, grubs, seeds, grass, earthworms and many other things. It snuffles as it digs, and grunts loudly when it finds food. It tends to be noisy when disturbed, snuffling, squeaking and hissing and can be quite aggressive.
Females can produce 3-4 litters a year of 1-4 babies. While they are successful reproducers, these animals live on average only 3 years. They spend most of this time alone, mixing with others only for mating.
SOUTHERN BROWN BANDICOOT
Although nocturnal, I have seen these several times in broad daylight. They move really fast and hide but they can also be completely unfazed by a nearby human, as they focus on digging for food. They look a lot like potoroos but have thinner tails and their ears are more prominent. They eat invertebrates and fungi.
According to NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, "the gestation period of 11-12 days is the shortest known of any marsupial while young remarkably become independent around 60 days after being born." With this kind of breeding efficiency, it's amazing they're not taking over the planet.
LONG NOSED POTOROO
Photo: Aussie Ark
The Aussie Ark website says that the long nosed potoroo "is one of the smallest and most ancient members of the kangaroo family and is a living fossil, having remained relatively unchanged for around 10 million years." They are considered to be ecosystem engineers because they spread beneficial fungi which help eucalypts and acacias absorb water and nutrients.
Long nosed potoroos grow to around 360mm in body length and a further 250mm in tail length. They mostly eat fungi which live in eucalypt forest, but will also eat fruit, seeds, insects and other things.
EASTERN THREE LINED SKINK
This is not a skink I've seen very often - at least, I don't have many photos of it. This skink grows up to around 8cm and has a bold dark strip down either side with a thinner pale line above and below it. If you manage to see it from the side or below, you should see a large orange patch on its throat. Unlike most skinks in Tasmania, this one lays eggs. Up to three females may lay their eggs in one nest. It eats invertebrates and insects.
Related to the Tasmanian Devil, this small animal can be ferocious, but also friendly and cute. About the size of a cat, Eastern Quolls come in either black with white spots or mid brown with white spots. They eat spiders and grasshoppers but will also hunt rabbits, rats and mice.
Once found across much of the south east of Australia, the species died out on the mainland by the mid 1960s and became restricted to Tasmania. In October 2022, the ABC reported that it is now declining significantly in parts of Tasmania for unknown reasons.
In 2017 Aussie Ark reintroduced the species to New South Wales and in 2022 50 more were introduced. This aims to help prevent the species from going extinct.
COMMON BRUSHTAIL POSSUM
The scientific name for the common brushtail possum, Trichosurus vulpecula, comes from the Greek for "furry tailed" and the Latin for "little fox", These animals may be silvery grey, brown, black, or gold coloured.
They spend most of their time up in tree tops, and are nocturnal and solitary. They usually make their dens in tree hollows and caves. Although they are not generally social, brushtail possums are usually not aggressive towards each other, tending just to stare. They make a range of sounds from clicks, grunts, hisses, alarm chatters, guttural coughs and, as many campers know, screeching. They can carry bovine tuberculosis and other diseases so it's best to leave them alone.
EASTERN RINGTAIL POSSUM
The eastern ringtail possum has a long tail with a white tip which can grasp branches and act as a fifth limb. This helps the possum climb and jump across gaps. The eastern ringtail lives almost entirely in trees and sleeps in a nest of grass or shredded bark in holes or forks of branches or in dense vegetation. Several possums may share the one nest.
The eastern ringtail eats flowers, fruit and leaves of various plants. It also eats its own faecal pellets, extracting many nutrients it missed first time round. It is the only species of possum currently known in which the male helps to care for the young, carrying the young on its back while the mother is feeding. Onya mate!
Tachyglossus means 'fast tongue'. Echidnas can mop up ants pretty quickly. (Their tongues are also long (up to 17cm) and sticky.) This photo is a still from a video I took of an echidna alongside the Fiona Allen Memorial walk eating ants from under the bark of a fallen tree. It seemed oblivious to both me and the ants running over its forelegs and face.
There are many fascinating characteristics to this unusual animal. One of only two monotremes (the other is the platypus) echidnas lay eggs but then feed the young puggles milk for up to 9 months. The puggle stays in its mother's pouch until its spines become too prickly. Its mother will then dig a burrow for it.
Tasmanian echidnas have the fewest spines and most hair of all Australian echnidnas. They are believed to live anywhere up to 50 years. Short-beaked echidnas are believed to be one of the oldest animal species alive today, having been around at the time of the dinosaurs.
They have a very good sense of smell and also have good hearing (although they often seem oblivious to the presence of humans a metre or two away). They are also very good swimmers, and have been seen crossing rivers with their snouts in the air.
Echidnas are largely solitary and wander over a large home range. But at mating time,
convoys of up to 10 males can be seen trailing a female. Males have a four headed penis, a fairly unique feature which allows them to use two heads at a time to fit into the female's branched reproductive tract.
Echnidnas dig burrows and their hind feet face backwards to help them push the dirt out behind them. In cold regions echidnas can go into a dormant state for weeks at a time, dropping their body temperature down to
4-5 C. In this state, their heart rate can go down to 1 beat a minute and they take a breath only every 3 minutes or so.
Animalia. Eastern barred bandicoot. https://animalia.bio/eastern-barred-bandicoot
Animalia. Eastern Bettong. https://animalia.bio/eastern-bettong
Anderson, Marc. Common Ringtail Possum Sounds and Calls. Common Ringtail Possum Calls & Sounds | Wild Ambience Nature Sounds
Australian Museum. Eastern Ringtail Possum. https://australian.museum/learn/animals/mammals/common-ringtail-possum/
Atlas if Living Australia. Trichosurus vulpecula (Kerr, 1792). https://bie.ala.org.au/species/https:/biodiversity.org.au/afd/taxa/00b1b9a2-70c9-45be-8019-9c7fd755afc8
Australian Geographic. A guide to all six species of quoll - Australian Geographic
Australian Museum. Short-beaked Echidna. https://australian.museum/learn/animals/mammals/short-beaked-echidna/
Billagong Sanctuary. Echidna - Short-beaked. https://www.billabongsanctuary.com.au/echidna-short-beaked/#:~:text=In%20extremely%20cold%20regions%2C%20such,for%20weeks%20at%20a%20time.
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Species Spotlight: Tasmanian Short-beaked Echidna. https://www.bonorong.com.au/blog/2022/8/species-spotlight-tasmanian-short-beaked-echidna
Friends of Knocklofty. Fauna. Knocklofty Reserve – Fauna | Friends of Knocklofty
GBIF Taxonomy. Thylogale billardierii (Desmarest, 1822) https://www.gbif.org/species/2440162
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. Southern Brown Bandicoot (eastern) - profile.
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. Tasmanian Bettong - Profile. https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=20191