Red-necked Wallaby

ZOO LOCATION: Australia Walkabout

Lifespan: 12-15 years

Wild Diet: Grasses, leaves and herbs; usually gets moisture from grass

Zoo Diet: Herbivore grain; carrots, yams

Predators: Tasmanian devil, wild dogs and cats. Farmers will shoot wallabies for eating crops

SSP: no

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Habitat/Range: Shrub, brushwood and open country (grasslands) of Tasmania, the southeastern coastal strip of Australia and nearby islands.

Characteristics: Red-necked wallabies reach a height of about 24-30 in. and weigh between 30-50 lbs. Males are larger and more muscular than females. They are brownish gray in color with light stomachs. Paws are darker than the rest of their bodies, and they have a white stripe on their lips. Very thick wooly fur. Has a darker coloration to absorb heat from the sunlight. One of the most dense coats of any wallaby species.

Behavior: "These wallabies are largely solitary, although loose groups, known as mobs, often share common feeding areas. They typically feed during the afternoon and dusk. There is a pecking order among females, but not aggressive. Males tend to be more aggressive to one another. It's not unusual to see them sparing it out, grabbing and boxing with their front legs and kicking with their back legs.

Very clean, constantly grooming fur coat. Likes to lay out and take in the sun and fresh air. They will lick their forearms to cause heat dissipation. May become easily startled. They have an alertness about them when someone or something approaches them. Otherwise tend to graze and stay relaxed. A silent communicator, red-necked wallabies use motions and moves to get their point across. They growl, hiss and chatter especially when being caught up. Powerful tails help them zigzag when running and provide comfortable support when sitting. When moving, they swing their hind feet forward in a rocking motion and place them in front of the forelimbs. They can leap about five feet in a single bound. They are cold hearty as long as they have shelter. Large ears aid in their acute hearing, as well as used for heat dispersal.

Reproduction: Females usually give birth in February and March. Their pouch has four teats. One offspring is typically born. Immediately after birth, the female mates again. The embryo resulting from this mating is held in "embryonic diapause" or delayed birth. When the pouched young leaves the pouch or dies, the embryo resumes growth, is "born" and enters the pouch. A few days later, the female mates again and holds the embryo in "diapause." Joeys are born after a gestation period of 29-30 days. They are not fully formed. After birth, the baby crawls into the pouch where it suckles for five to eleven months, until mature. The joey's rate of growth depends on the mother's diet: the better the diet, the more nutritious her milk and the faster the baby grows.

Conservation: Red-necked wallabies are common in eastern Australia and Tasmania, and do well in a broad range of habitats. Though they are becoming more popular as pets, there are not any major threats to their survival as a species at this time.