SIX NEW FURRY PUNKS AT POTOROO PALACE

A few weeks ago six small precious bundles arrived in pastel pillowcases travelling by the fastest transport possible (drivers feeding each other so as not to have to pause on the journey) from Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Canberra: three male and three female Long-nosed Potoroos. They have now joined the eleven residents, who all have biblical names: Esther, Magdalen, Bathsheba, Ruth, Rachel, Jezebel, Eve, Ezekiel, Daniel, Noah and Solomon. The new six have plant names: Fern, Moss and Orchid (female) and Sedge, Bracken and Wattle (male).

Staff at Potoroo Palace have been able to gather a huge variety of mushrooms recently because the weather has been perfect for all kinds of fungi, the potoroos favourite food. The potoroos themselves are excellent truffle finders, truffles being the fruiting bodies of underground fungi. Australia has a huge variety of truffles, of all shapes, sizes and colours. The truffles rely on small fungus eating native animals (especially potoroos because most of their preferred diet is fungus) and insects to distribute their spores. Most forest trees and many shrubs in Australia have mutually beneficial relationships with these underground fungi. Most of the fruiting bodies grow between the hard subsoil and the rotting leaf litter layer.

The breeding programme for Long-nosed Potoroos at PP has been very successful, but the new arrivals are needed to prevent inbreeding. The seventeen potoroos are distributed between seven enclosures at the moment, making it easier to spot them. The potoroos are happy to share enclosures with many of the birds.