Friday, May 17, 2013


There are several species of rock wallaby and I am going to endeavour to write a little about each of them as they are truly fascinating animals.

The word wallaby is from an aboriginal name given to this animal by the Eora tribe that lived around the Sydney area in the past.

The BRUSH-TAILED ROCK WALLABY (Petrogale penicillata) is a marsupial common to Queensland and New South Wales.  The population in Victoria is dangerously close to becoming extinct.  The decline of this species is due to man things including inbreeding, lack of predator control and loss of habitat.  It is difficult to reintroduce these animals to the wild due to the changes made to their preferred habitat.  Brush-tailed rock wallabies are nocturnal animals but they appear to enjoy the sunshine when the weather is cool.
Compared to the body sizes of other wallabies, this wallaby is in the middle.  The back legs and tail are all brown, the underbelly fades into a lighter brown or white.  The legs, paws and feet are almost black.  The cheeks are adorned with a cream stripe that runs from snout to ear on both sides.  Thick fur covers the brush-tailed wallaby and there is also a brush at the end of its tail.

They enjoy dwelling in areas where there are plenty of rocks and caves.  Although the main population of this marsupial is located on the continent of Australia, there are populations in HAWAII that have been introduced there in a conservation effort.  Brush-tailed wallabies are very sensitive about their environment and do not like to be disturbed by humans.  In the wild they are not friendly.  They can climb tall trees with their sharp claws and strong legs, and can also easily climb rocks.

Feeding generally occurs during the night and early morning hours.  Brush-tailed wallabies enjoy eating various native grasses in addition to roots and bark.
The PROSPERINE ROCK WALLABY (Petrogale persephone) has several small populations in north-east Queensland, Australia, and on a number of the Whitsunday group of islands.  These areas have been extensively developed by humans; primarily by tourist attractions, urban cities/housing, and agriculture. All of these things greatly disturb the prosperine rock wallaby's habitat and have contributed to its status being an endangered species.  This is a fairly new species with its first documentation in 1976.

The Prosperine rock wallaby prefers rocky areas that are protected by the canopy of the forest.  This species likes to be near open woodlands with plenty of grass.  A prosperine rock wallaby will use rock crevices and caves for rest and shelter.  They can easily climb a tree although most of their time is spent on the ground.  This wallaby is shy and tends to live in a colony with other prosperine rock wallabies.  They are nocturnal but can often be seen enjoying the sun when the weather is cool.  There is padding on their hind feet that aids this species in gripping rocks.
The BLACK-FOOTED WALLABY (Petrogale lateralia) is slightly smaller and has a more delicate frame than the wallaroo.  Although they could once be found almost anywhere, now the popularion is concentrated mostly in the arid regions of central Australia.  They live on rocky hills near some sort of vegetation (a source of food).  During the day they will hide out in caves or crevices to escape the heat and will only come out to feed at dusk and dawn when the temperature is cooler.  Since they conserve their energy during hot days they do not need a source of water to survive.  They most get the hydration they need directly from their food: grass, plants, fruits and shrubs.  They are very shy animals and will never venture too far from their home where they live in groups of up to 100 members.

Black-footed rock wallabies are considered threatened in some parts of Australia and vulnerable worldwide.
The YELLOW-FOOTED ROCK WALLABY (Petrogale xanthopus) has to be the prettiest wallaby.  It can be recognised by its grey-brown fut, lighter coloured chest, orange to yellow limbs and tail, a long dark stripe from the ears to the shoulders and white stripes on its cheeks and yellow behind the ears.  It lives on rocky terrain near vegetation in New South Wales and Queensland.  It has great camouflage ability so as not to be seen by predators.  It can also stand very still of hop extremely fast to run away from danger.  When it feels danger around it will stomp the ground with its hind legs to warn others of the possibility of a predator nearby.  Its predators are the wedge-rail eagle and the introduced fox.

They are now considered vulnerable because of the decline in population due to other animals eating their source of food.  If they have to travel further from their homes for food they have a better chance of getting eaten by predators.  To help them, the Buckaringa Sanctuary has fenced about 20,000 acres of land to keep the other animals out.
The ROUFOUS HARE WALLABY (Lagorchestes hirsutus) was very common in central and western Australia, so common that the rufous hare wallaby was a source of food for the aborigines.  These animals are currently only found in the wild on the islands of Dorre and Bernier (in Shark Bay, west of Carnarvon), and there are a few small captive populations on the Australian mainland.  Rufous hare wallabies are classified as endangered.  Low numbers of this species can be attributed to loss of habitat, predators, and competition for food.  Lagorchestes hirsutus translates to "dancing hare".

Rufous hare wallabies are nocturnal marsupials that prefer to be alone.  Burrows can be found in hummock grasslands.  The burrows are used as nests during the day.  Hummocks and spinifex are also used as daytime shelter.  This species appears to scrape out its own shallow burrow.  When it is disturbed in the burrow, it will jump out quickly and try to escape.

Breeding depends on the amount of rain that has fallen that year and the species will not breed if there is not ample rainfall as the young will not survive.  Females are capable of raising about one young each year if conditions are suitable.

These wallabies do vary somewhat in size but their feeding preferences and breeding habits are similar. If anyone wants to find out further information about any of these animals they only have go Google them and Wikipedia and other websites have excellent references.  There is one website entirely about Australian animals.


  1. So many species where you are look like miniature kangaroos. I guess the pattern just works really well there.

  2. Yes it would seem perhaps that the pouches that protect the young are because of our harsh environment. Don't quote me on that but is makes a lot of sense.

  3. They are enchanting beasts - all of them. Thank you - broad smiles (again).

  4. They make me smile too, just looking at them and especially when they are not critically endangered. Thanks EC.