Booderee National Park

Friday 14 February 2020

This Valentine’s Day we are all about finding love for Notchy, our most eligible bachelor and resident long-nosed potoroo at Booderee National Park.

Notchy’s hairy. A little rugged. And more than a little crafty – which makes it really hard for us to capture him in a camera trap to monitor his lifestyle habits. You could say he has become wise to our ways over the years.

Notchy was part of a reintroduction project bringing long-nosed potoroos (Potorous tridactylus) back to Booderee National Park between 2014 to 2015.

During that time, 35 potoroos were introduced to the park from the south-east forests of NSW, in collaboration with the Forestry Corporation, Australian National University and the Taronga Conservation Society.

Potoroos are related to kangaroos; they are nocturnal, usually solitary and have a diet that consists mostly of underground fruiting fungi. They are long-lived for a small animal (about seven years) and can have up to two young per year.

But unlike other mammals that breed in big numbers and don’t live for long (this is called r/K selection theory), potoroos are slow and steady to increase their population.

So we’ve been patiently waiting for news that some of our potoroos may have found love and started a family here at Booderee.

We had high hopes in early 2017 because there was an increase in activity at one of the release sites – a really good sign!

Unfortunately, our potoroo population got caught between a wildfire and a back burn later that year. The fire burnt out 2,000 hectares or 40 per cent of the park. It was really bad luck for the potoroos and hit our team hard.

After the fire, Booderee staff quickly replaced destroyed fauna monitoring cameras, established feed stations to help survivors, and distributed more cameras around to locate survivors.

We found one! He had a notch ear and we called him “Notchy”.

Funnily enough, all the introduced animals have notch ears; girls in the left, boys in the right, because a small ear punch is taken by the veterinarians during health checks to collect a DNA sample.

Since then, a potoroo was captured in a cage trap as part of seasonal mammal trapping work in early 2019, so the chances are good that Notchy’s not all alone out there. We doubt it was Notchy himself.

So today, on Valentine’s Day 2020, we’re curious about how Notchy is doing out there. We have continually monitored him to maintain his welfare, however, we really want to know if he has located other survivors from the fire - especially ladies - and is doing what comes naturally.

Since January we’ve extended the fauna camera network and checked all the old monitoring sites to try and locate potoroos. No others have been caught on camera yet, but we are hopeful.

If it turns out that Notchy is all alone, we may donate him to a sanctuary to participate in a breeding program. Hopefully we can eventually bring his young back to Booderee.