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Red-necked wallaby

Red-necked wallabies are closely related to kangaroos and look similar, although are about half the size. British wallabies belong to a subspecies, Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus, native to Tasmania, and escaped from private collections and zoos in the last century. They have greyish-brown fur and, as their name suggests, red patches on their shoulders. They stand on their powerful hind legs and support themselves with their strong black-tipped, silver-grey tail. Their ears, feet and muzzle also have black tips. Wallabies are usually solitary and active especially at dusk and during the night. They are not territorial and do not make dens, but during the day they will lie under cover in thick vegetation. They are generally secretive animals and are sensitive to disturbance.

Head-body length: 60 – 70cm
Tail length: 62 – 78cm
Weight: 7 – 22kg
Lifespan: Up to 18 years

Reproduction

Females can breed from the age of one. A single young is generally born during the summer and only emerges from the mother’s pouch in May or June the following year.

Diet

Mostly heather but also bracken, bilberries and grasses.

Habitat

Generally woodland and scrub, but feed out in the open, for example, on heather moorland.

Predators

No natural predators in the UK, but the young are sometimes killed by dogs or foxes.

Threats

Road traffic accidents. Harsh winters are also a cause of high mortality.

Status & conservation

Non-native and localised.

Population size & distribution

UK population fewer than 50 individuals. Three of the four free-living populations have become extinct in recent years or are no longer viable. Small groups are present in the Peak District in England and near Loch Lomond in Scotland, and a large colony roams freely at Whipsnade Zoo.

Did you know?

When alarmed, wallabies (like rabbits) slap their feet on the ground for several bounds, warning others of potential danger.

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