Wallabies are marsupials related to kangaroos.
Wallabies are widely distributed across Australia, particularly in more remote, heavily timbered, or rugged areas, less so on the great semi-arid plains that are better suited to the larger, leaner, and more fleet-footed kangaroos. They also can be found on the island of New Guinea.
There are about 30 species of wallaby.
The lifespan of wallabies varies by species, but ranges from about 7 to 18 years.
Wallabies are almost identical to kangaroos but smaller.
They range in size from the size of a rabbit to almost 2 meters (6.5 feet) from head to end of tail.
The soft, woolly fur can be gray, brown, red or almost black. The belly is lighter.
Their powerful hind legs are not only used for bounding at high speeds and jumping great heights, but also to administer vigorous kicks to fend off potential predators.
Like kangaroos, wallabies have powerful, big tails. Though they are not prehensile (used for gripping), wallabies do use their tails to maintain balance and to hold themselves in a sitting posture.
The top speed of the average wallaby is about 48 kilometers per hour (30 miles per hour).
Wallabies are most active around dusk and dawn, meaning that the correct term is crepuscular, but they are also classified as nocturnal.
Wallabies are solitary animals, although they will often forage for food in groups of up to 30 animals.
Wallabies are herbivores. They eat a variety of plants such as grasses, sedges and leaves. They have long jaws and big, flat teeth made for chewing grasses and other plants. Often wallabies travel in search of food and water.
Young wallabies are known as “joeys”, like many other marsupials. Adult male wallabies are referred to as “bucks”, “boomers”, or “jacks”. An adult female wallaby is known as a “doe”, “flyer”, or “jill”. A group of wallabies is called a “court”, “mob”, or “troupe.”
Wallabies like all other marsupials, with the exception of the Platypus, give birth to live young.
Breeding season for most wallabies is between January and February. After a gestation period of 28 days, a single joey is born (occasionally twins). The joey then crawls up into its mother’s pouch, where it is cared for and nurtured until it is fully developed.
Wallabies face several threats. Wild dogs, foxes, and feral cats are among their predators. Humans also pose a significant threat to wallabies due to increased interaction (wallabies can defend themselves with hard kicks, and biting).
The largest threat to wallabies is habitat loss. With European settlement, a lot of native bush was cleared to make room for grazing and agricultural land. Further land development has wiped out a substantial amount of diversity within their natural habitat. Changes in climate are also affecting wallabies. The World Wildlife Foundation is working together with community groups to protect their natural habitat.
The name “wallaby” comes from Dharug “walabi” or “waliba.”.