Potoroos are one of the smallest members of the macropods living in Tasmania. Adult weight is approx. 1.3 kg and they range in colour from red-brown on the west coast to grey on the east coast, with paler fur on the belly. Most individuals have a white tip at the end of their tail. It is very similar to the Tasmanian Bettong. The two animals are best distinguished by the relative length of the tail. The tail of the bettong is as long as the head and body while, in comparison, the tail of the potoroo is significantly shorter. The potoroo may also be identified by its darker colour and its larger, more pointed nose which has a bare patch of skin above the nostrils. The species is widespread in Tasmania and are found on Flinders Island and Bruny Island. The potoroo is still found on the east coast of the mainland, where its range has decreased.
There is no specific breeding season, with animals capable of giving birth throughout the year, although in the potoroo there is a tendency for most births to occur from the end of winter to early spring. The gestation period is 38 days, the longest of any macropod despite its relatively small size. Pouch life is 4 months. Young potoroos are weaned at 5 – 6 months and are sexually mature at about 8-10 months for females and a little later for males. Up to 2 young per year are produced. Longevity in the wild averages 2 – 3 years, but can live for up to 7 years.
Preferred habitat ranges from moderately dry grassy woodland to wet dense scrub under which it forms a system of tracks or ‘runways’. The potoroo is nocturnal, spending the hours of daylight in thick vegetation. It does not venture far from its nest when feeding.
The diet of the potoroo includes seeds, roots, bulbs and insects. However, the main components in the diet are underground fungi which are dug up using the strong forepaws. Occasionally, potoroos will venture into gardens and dig up seedlings in a search for soil invertebrates and fungi.
The potoroo is wholly protected.