The rat-kangaroo was one of the first Australian marsupials to be seen alive in Europe. Collected close to the settlement at Sydney Cove, a pair of them were exhibited in London in 1789. These animals were called by the local Aboriginal people 'Pot-o-roo,' and by the European settlers, 'Kangooroo rat'. They were the Long-nosed Potoroo, Potorous tridactylus, the first of what we now call 'Rat-kangaroos' to be discovered. Rat-kangaroos have not coped well with the impact of European settlement.
Of the eleven species present in 1788, two are extinct, two are now found only on offshore islands and the range of all other species has been much reduced. Habitat alienation, altered fire regimes, grazing, predation by introduced carnivores, competition from rabbits and timber harvesting have all taken their toll on these little seen animals. "Bettongs, Potoroos and the Musky Rat-kangaroo" provides an extraordinary glimpse into the secretive lives of these unusual marsupials.
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