Whiptail wallaby

© Canva NFP

The most beautiful and boldly marked of mid-sized kangaroos, the whiptail wallaby (Macropus parryi) gets its name from its long tail, which tapers to a whip-like end. Edward Turner Bennett first named this species in 1835 from a specimen collected at Stroud, New South Wales. 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.

 

Quick facts

COMMON NAME:
Whiptail wallaby

SCIENTIFIC NAME:
Macropus parryi

FAMILY:
Macropodidae 

ALSO KNOWN AS:
pretty-faced wallaby, grey-faced wallaby, grey flier, blue flier, jabali

QLD CONSERVATION STATUS:
Least Concern 

NATIONAL CONSERVATION STATUS:
Least Concern 

Did you know?

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.

Whiptail wallaby© Michael Schmid

Threats to the whiptail wallaby

    • 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 New South Wales and Queensland is increasingly affected by urban development. Populations in the eastern Darling Downs and Brigalow Belt have been severely fragmented or lost.

 

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 New South Wales border; from coastal areas to the western edge of the Great Dividing Range.

Description

  • ‘Pretty’ delicate face with a 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 the body (male tail approx. 95 cm; female about 80 cm).
  • Medium size wallaby: adult male about 85cm long female smaller, about 70 cm.
  • Male adults weigh an average 16kg; females around 11 kg.

Signs

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

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.

Ecology

Life history and behaviour

  • Up to 12 years.
  • Lives in social groups of up to 50.
  • Occurs in groups of up to 50 individuals of mixed age and sex.
  • Partially day active especially early morning and late afternoon.

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.

More information

Publications & papers

  • 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.

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