Rarest Mammal in The World: Australia (Video)

Gilbert’s Potoroo, sometimes called a rat-kangaroo has a bit of history and was first discovered by John Gilbert in the mid 1800’s. This little guy seemed to just disappear off the face of the earth, and was thought to be extinct for a long time. (There are a large number of different rat-kangaroos in Australia, but this one is the most fascinating)

Gilbert's Potoroo

Photo Michael Wakefield. via Wikipedia (Click for larger view)

Sometime in the mid 1990’s a Gilbert’s Potoroo was accidently caught while research was being done on wallabies in a Nature Reserve in Western Australia. They have since tried to breed these in captivity to try and preserve the species, but they just wouldn’t come together. Gilbert’s Potoroo is now on the CR list (Critically Endangered)

They were eventually taken to Bald Island which is just off the Western Australian coast, this Island is a Nature Reserve, and the Gilbert’s Potoroo is now starting to breed. They will stay on the CR list as their numbers are still very small, but hopefully in the future this will change.

If you would like to know more about the Gilbert’s Potoroo
Wikipedia has a very good article.

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31 Responses to Rarest Mammal in The World: Australia (Video)

  1. Fergiemoto says:

    Cool! Thanks for the info.

  2. souldipper says:

    I am amazed, Mags, that these are kangaroos. Do they carry their young in a pouch?? Wow. They look so much like a rat. Gads, nature is a marvel. How did that species of animal end up there and only there? If the continents divided, why didn’t these marsupials survive in other locations?


    • magsx2 says:

      Hi souldipper,
      We have a lot of what is called rat-kangaroos, they are all mammals and are part of the marsupial family which mean they all carry their young in a pouch. They all look a bit like a rodent except for the long pointy nose, and funny ears on some. 🙂

      Gilbert’s Potoroo was originally on mainland Australia, they were moved to Bald Island in the hope that they would breed. The island itself was formed when it broke away from the mainland (as the continents divided, this is also how Tasmania came to be) many thousands of years ago.

  3. How COOL is that?!

    In the clip we could only see one large one, and one small one, at a time…I wonder if we were seeing the same ones over and over, or if it was a sizable family?

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Laurie,
      There are only about 40 altogether according to Wikipedia, I didn’t think there were that many, but that is the amount they think is in existence. They stick together, it would be hard to work out if the ones in the video was part of a family unit or not.

  4. travelrat says:


    I think there’s something in Bill Bryson’s ‘Down Under’ about species which disappear and re-appear; can’t remember the exact details, but will look it up in the morning.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi travelrat,
      That does sound interesting, I have heard of the book but I never read it.

      • travelrat says:

        I checked … Bryson wrote about an insect; discovered in Western Australia, previously thought to have been extinct since the Dead Sea first called in sick … and promptly disappeared again, never to be seen till 50 years later, when an American expedition tried to find them.

        On the way there, their truck broke down, about 800 miles from the site. One of their number decided to go for a walk … and, purely by chance, found a thriving colony of them!

        Coincidence, or what?

  5. E.C. says:

    What a cute and interesting critter. It’s sad when extinction is so close to a species. I’m glad they’ve finally start reproducing. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi E.C.
      They are cute in an funny way I think, by the video they seem to scurry along pretty fast. 😀
      Yes it’s wonderful that they have started breeding again.

  6. barb19 says:

    Thanks for the info on our Potoroos Mags – it would be tragic to lose them altogether (as it would be with any species).
    I hope they continue to breed on Bald Island, and bring up their numbers so they can be taken off the Critically Endangered list, but I guess that will take some time.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi barb19,
      Bald Island seems to be a good place for them, at least they are breeding, it will take a long time before they come off the CE list, but still as long as they are increasing slowly that is better than nothing.

  7. malc50 says:

    Fascinating Mags: “The female potoroos can have two babies in a year, while carrying only one at a time. They have the ability to keep a second embryo in a state of diapause while the first embryo is growing. If the first baby does not go to term, this allows a second baby to start growing right away.” “Marsupials are characterized by giving birth to relatively undeveloped young. They lack a complex placenta to protect the embryo from its mother’s immune system. They have a front pouch containing multiple nipples for protection and sustenance of the young.” “Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young.” Now dugong, dolphins and whales are mammals, but I would not have thought they had hair. You keep expanding my education, Mags.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Mal,
      They are fascinating little animals.
      Yes there are a huge number of land animals that are classed as mammals, your right about the sea mammals of course some do not have hair, it is just a way for the powers that be to confuse us, and of course they do. 😀

  8. I wanted to like these critters, really I did, but the New Yorker in me who sees rats scurry creepily along the subway tracks or jump out of large garbage piles couldn’t look at the whole video. I’m sure it’s fascinating Mags, and I realize this is a rat-kangaroo, but my mind kept wandering to the rodents I see far too often in the city. 😦

  9. aFrankAngle says:

    Awesome story … thanks for finding it and sharing!

  10. tempo says:

    Such interesting little creatures…

  11. Cats and foxes, neither of them native to Australia, plus our destruction of habitat, are getting the better of some of our smaller animals. Such a pity.

  12. Rebekah says:

    Oh, what a cute little darlin’!!! I do hope they’ll make it on that island. The saddest thing I know of is when a species dies out.

    Wonderful article, Mags, about something I wouldn’t have known about otherwise..

  13. El Guapo says:

    Those are some big ears!
    Hopefully, on a protected island they will be able to breed and carry on…

  14. They seem like sweet and busy little creatures – I hope they make it!

  15. Pingback: Quokka: Rottnest Island Australia (Video) | Magsx2's Blog

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