Wallaby

A wallaby (/ˈwɒləbi/) is a small or middle-sized macropod native to Australia and New Guinea, with introduced populations in New Zealand,[1] the United Kingdom and other countries. They belong to the same taxonomic family as kangaroos and sometimes the same genus, but kangaroos are specifically categorised into the four largest species of the family. The term "wallaby" is an informal designation generally used for any macropod that is smaller than a kangaroo or a wallaroo that has not been designated otherwise.[2]

There are nine species (including one that is extinct) of brush wallabies (genus Macropus, subgenus Protemnodon). Their head and body length is 45 to 105 cm (18 to 41 in) and the tail is 33 to 75 cm (13 to 30 in) long. The 16 named species of rock-wallabies (genus Petrogale) live among rocks, usually near water; two species in this genus are endangered. The two living species of hare-wallabies (genus Lagorchestes; two other species in this genus are also extinct) are small animals that have the movements and some of the habits of hares. The three species (also including one that is extinct) of nail-tail wallabies (genus Onychogalea) have one notable feature: a horny spur at the tip of the tail; its function is unknown. Often called "pademelons", the seven species of scrub wallabies (genus Thylogale) of New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and Tasmania are small and stocky, with short hind limbs and pointed noses. The swamp wallaby (genus Wallabia) is the only species in its genus. Another wallaby that is the only species in its genus is the quokka or short-tailed scrub wallaby (Setonix brachyurus); this species is now restricted to two offshore islands of Western Australia which are free of introduced predators. The seven species of forest wallabies (genera Dorcopsis (four species, with a fifth as yet undescribed) and Dorcopsulus (two species)) are all native to the island of New Guinea. One of the brush wallaby species, the dwarf wallaby (Macropus dorcopsulus), native to New Guinea, is the smallest known wallaby and the smallest known species of the kangaroo family. Its length is about 46 cm (18 in) from the nose to the end of the tail, and it weighs about 1.6 kg (3.5 lb).[3]

Wallabies are hunted for meat and fur.

Etymology and terminology

The name wallaby comes from Dharug walabi or waliba.[citation needed] Another early name for the wallaby, in use from at least 1802, was the brush-kangaroo.[4]

Young wallabies are referred to as "joeys", like many other marsupials. Adult male wallabies are referred to as "bucks", "boomers", or "jacks". Adult female wallabies are referred to as "does", "flyers", or "jills". A group of wallabies is called a "mob", "court", or "troupe". Forest-dwelling wallabies are known as "pademelons" (genus Thylogale) and "dorcopsises" (genera Dorcopsis and Dorcopsulus).

General description

 
An agile wallaby family

Although members of most wallaby species are small, some can grow up to approximately two metres in length (from the head to the end of the tail). 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. The tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) has elastic storage in the ankle extensor tendons, without which the animal's metabolic rate might be 30–50% greater.[5] It has also been found that the design of spring-like tendon energy savings and economical muscle force generation is key for the two distal muscle–tendon units of the tammar wallaby (Macropus-Eugenii).[6] Wallabies also have a powerful tail that is used mostly for balance and support.

Diet

Wallabies are herbivores whose diet consists of a wide range of grasses, vegetables, leaves and other foliage. Due to recent urbanization, many wallabies now feed in rural and urban areas. Wallabies cover vast distances for food and water, which is often scarce in their environment. Mobs of wallabies often congregate around the same water hole during the dry season.

Threats

Wallabies face several threats. Dingoes, domestic and feral dogs, feral cats, and red foxes 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). Many wallabies have been involved in vehicular accidents, as they often feed near roads and urban areas.

Classification

Wallabies are not a distinct genetic group. Nevertheless, they fall into several broad categories. Typical wallabies of the genus Macropus, like the agile wallaby (Macropus agilis) and the red-necked wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus), are most closely related to the kangaroos and wallaroos and, aside from their size, look very similar. These are the ones most frequently seen, particularly in the southern states.

 
A red-necked wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus) joey in a pouch

Rock-wallabies (genus Petrogale), rather like the goats of the Northern Hemisphere, specialise in rugged terrain and have modified feet adapted to grip rock with skin friction rather than dig into soil with large claws. There are at least 15 species and the relationship between several of them is poorly understood. Several species are endangered. Captive rock-wallaby breeding programs, like the one at Healesville Sanctuary, have had some success and a small number have recently been released into the wild.

The banded hare-wallaby (Lagostrophus fasciatus) is thought to be the last remaining member of the once numerous subfamily Sthenurinae, and although once common across southern Australia, it is now restricted to two islands off the Western Australian coast which are free of introduced predators. It is not as closely related to the other hare-wallabies (genus Lagorchestes) as the hare-wallabies are to the other wallabies.

New Guinea, which was until fairly recent geological times part of mainland Australia,[7] has at least five species of wallabies.

Natural range and habitat

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.[8]

Introduced populations

Wallabies of several species have been introduced to other parts of the world, and there are a number of breeding introduced populations, including:

Species

 
A female wallaby with a joey in the Tasmanian summer rain
 
The swamp wallaby is the only living representative of the genus Wallabia. This individual exhibits the species' unusual preference for browsing; note the use of the forelimbs to grasp the plant.
 
Three wallabies (one grey with a joey in her pouch and one white) in captivity in England

The term "wallaby" is not well defined and can mean any macropod of moderate or small size. Therefore, the listing below is arbitrary and taken from the complete list of macropods.

Genus Macropus, subgenus Protemnodon

Genus Petrogale

Genus Lagostrophus

Genus Dorcopsis

Genus Onychogalea

Genus Thylogale

Genus Dorcopsulus

Genus Wallabia

Genus Setonix

  • Quokka or short-tailed scrub wallaby, Setonix brachyurus

References

  1. ^ (DOC), corporatename = New Zealand Department of Conservation. "Wallabies". www.doc.govt.nz. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  2. ^ "The Kangaroo". australianwildlife.com.au. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  3. ^ "Wallaby". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  4. ^ Morris, Edward (1898, London, Macmillan & Co, reprinted 1973, Sydney), A dictionary of Austral English, Sydney University Press, p.59.ISBN 0424063905
  5. ^ Biewener, A. A.; Baudinette, R. V. (September 1995). "In vivo muscle force and elastic energy storage during steady-speed hopping of tammar wallabies (Macropus eugenii)" (PDF). Journal of Experimental Biology. 198 (9): 1829–1841.
  6. ^ Biewener, A. A.; McGowan, C. Card, G. M. Baudinette, R. V. (January 2004). "Dynamics of leg muscle function in tammar wallabies (M. eugenii) during level versus incline hopping" (PDF). Journal of Experimental Biology. 207 (2): 211–223. doi:10.1242/Jeb.00764.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ See Australia (continent)
  8. ^ For example, the agile wallaby – and arguably the many species of tree-kangaroos
  9. ^ a b c "Where to hunt wallabies". Department of Conservation, New Zealand
  10. ^ Napp, Bernie (4 September 2006). Auckland Conservacy wins Joey Award. Department of Conservation, New Zealand
  11. ^ Wallabies: Introduction, connovation.co.nz
  12. ^ Wallabies. ecan.govt.nz
  13. ^ "Searching for the Isle of Man's wild wallabies". BBC. 17 October 2010. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Earlham College – Biology Department – Introduced Species In Hawaii – Mammals". Earlham.edu. 9 December 1959. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  15. ^ Yalden, D. W.; Hosey, G. R. (2009). "Wallabies in the Peak District". Journal of Zoology. 165 (4): 513. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1971.tb02203.x.
  16. ^ "Wallabies and yaks". The Roaches Peak District, Roaches.org.uk. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  17. ^ "Loch Lomond Islands: Inchconnachan". Loch Lomond.net. Retrieved 24 August 2007.
  18. ^ "Scottish Daily Record, 06/06/2009 Colony of Wallabies set for cull". Daily Record. Scotland. 6 June 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  19. ^ McLean, Marc (5 June 2009). "Wallabies face being wiped out". Lennoxherald.co.uk. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  20. ^ Dolan, Brian (8 July 2010). "Archaeological Wallabies on Lambay Island". seandalaiocht.com.
  21. ^ Connally, Colleen (12 November 2014). "What the Heck Are Wallabies Doing in Ireland?". smithsonianmag.com.
  22. ^ Enquête sur le Wallaby de Bennett en Forêt d'Yvelines. cerf78.fr

External links