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home -> wildlife -> species profiles -> mammals -> whiptail wallaby
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Whiptail wallaby
WHIPTAIL WALLABY

Whiptail wallaby.
Photo © At a glance

(Macropus parryi)

Also called: pretty face wallaby, grey-faced wallaby, grey flier, blue flier, jabali

The most beautiful and boldly marked of mid-sized kangaroos, the whiptail wallaby gets its name from its long tail, which tapers to a whip-like end (though see Did you know? for another version). Edward Turner Bennett first named this species in 1835 from a specimen collected at Stroud, NSW.

Until 2008, the whiptail wallaby was one of four species of macropod that could be hunted under permit in Queensland for economic reasons. Numbers culled under the quota declined in the late 20th century and the wallaby was removed from the commercial cull list after a campaign led by Wildlife Queensland.

Description

  • ‘Pretty’ delicate face with prominent white stripe and ear tips, plus white stripe on cheek.
  • Back fur uniformly light grey in winter; brownish-grey in summer, white below; prominent light grey hip stripe.
  • Long, slender, light grey tail with a dark tip
  • Tail much longer than body (male tail approx 95 cm; female about 80cm)
  • Medium size wallaby: adult male about 85cm long female smaller, about 70cm
  • Male adults weigh an average 16 kg; females around 11 kg

Signs

The most gregarious of all the small wallabies, so often seen as part of a mob (see Behaviour).

Habitat

  • Undulating or hilly terrain near the coast with eucalypt open forest or woodland with a grassy understorey
  • Partial clearing of forest for cattle grazing appears might have helped populations by increasing the extent of open grassy areas, while still retaining some degree of cover.

Did you know ?

The whiptail wallaby rarely drinks except in extreme drought. It gets its water from the vegetation it eats.

Whiptail wallabies were once introduced onto Heron Island but did not thrive and are no longer found there.

The name of the whiptail wallaby comes from the hunters who used to shoot it to turn its extra long tail into a leather whip.

Ecology

Life history and family

  • Up to 12 years
  • Lives in social groups of up to 50

Breeding

  • Females mature at 18-24 months
  • Males do not mate until 2-3 years old because of competition in the mob
  • During courtship a group of males with a dominant male follow the female. The dominant male will keep other males away by chasing them and ritually pulling up grass while facing a rival.
  • Females breed throughout the year but peak October–March
  • Pouch life 9 months; young weaned at 15 months.

Food

  • Grasses and other herbaceous plants including ferns

Behaviour

  • Occurs in groups of up to 50 individuals of mixed age and sex
  • Partially day active especially early morning and late afternoon.

Home range

  • Home ranges overlap extensively with the ranges of other individuals in a group.

Distribution

Discontinuous populations from Cooktown south to the north-eastern NSW border; from coastal areas to the western edge of the Great Dividing Range.

Threats

In order of severity:

  • Habitat destruction through clearing and over-grazing and intensive agriculture
  • Increasing rural residential development on the wallaby’s favoured low hills
  • Urbanisation in south-east Queensland and coastal areas
  • Unrestrained and feral dogs, especially near areas of high human populations

The wallaby’s preferred forested habitat on undulating land in coastal and subcoastal northern NSW and Queensland is increasingly affected by urban development. Populations in the eastern Darling Downs and Brigalow Belt have been severely fragmented or lost.

Conservation

Status

  • Common in some localities but decreasing near areas of intensive urbanisation and grazing. Patchy distribution in northern Queensland.
  • Currently listed as of least concern by state and federal governments

Activities

Wildlife Queensland is campaigning to remove the whiptail wallaby from the list licensed by the Queensland government for culling.

Find out more

Further information on the harvesting of this and other macropod species.

 Johnson, P.M. 2003. Kangaroos in Queensland Queensland Museum

Johnson, P. M 1998. Reproduction of the Whiptail Wallaby, Macropus parryi Bennet (Marsupialia : Macropodidae), in captivity with age estimation of the pouch young. Wildlife Research 25: 635-41.

Kaufmann, J.H. 1974. Social ethology of the Whiptail Wallaby, Macropus parryi, in north-eastern New South Wales. Animal Behaviour 22:281-368.