November 10, 2015 Mammals No Comments

(Petrogale penicillata)

John Edward Grey first described this wallaby and provided

Brush-tailed rock wallaby. Photo © WPSQ

Brush-tailed rock wallaby.
Photo © WPSQ

its scientific name in 1827 from a drawing by Lewin from what was then known as New Holland.

The brush-tailed rock wallaby once lived in scattered colonies in the rugged rocky country of south-eastern Australia. It was found along the Great Dividing Range for 2500 km from the Grampians in western Victoria to Nanango in south-east Queensland, with outlying populations in the coastal valleys and ranges to the east of the Divide, and the slopes and plains as far west as Cobar, NSW, and north to Nanango, 100 km NW of Brisbane.

Numbers have declined significantly in the west and south of its former range and populations are increasingly isolated.

Description

  • Small agile wallaby with black stripe from forehead to back of head and a pale cheek stripe
  • Back fur grey to dark brown, shaded with red on the flanks and grey on the neck and shoulders
  • Chest and belly fur dark to light brown sometimes with a white blaze on the chest
  • Long tail darker and bushier towards tip
  • Males about 55 cm long (tails about 60 cm), females slightly shorter and tails slightly shorter
  • Male wallabies can weigh from 5.5kg to nearly 11kg, average about 8 kg.
  • Females weigh about 6kg but vary either side of that weight.

Signs

Scats are similar in size to brush-tailed possum scats but blacker, rougher textured and with pointed ends.

Brush-tailed rock wallaby habitat Photo © WPSQ

Brush-tailed rock wallaby habitat
Photo © WPSQ

Habitat

  • Rocky escarpments, outcrops and cliffs
  • Particularly likes complex structures with fissures, caves and ledges that face north

Ecology

Life history and family

  • Live about 5–10 years
  • Family groups consist of 2–5 adults with 1-2 juveniles
  • Young stay in the pouch for 6 months, weaning at 9 months
  • Juveniles follow mother for several months after leaving pouch.

Breeding

  • Females mature at 1-2 years
  • Breed at any time of the year in the southern part of their range.
  • Dominant males associate and breed with up to four females

Food

  • Browse on vegetation in and around rocky habitat
  • Eat grasses and forbs, plus foliage and fruits of shrubs and trees

Behaviour

  • Bask and shelter during the day in rock crevices, caves and overhangs
  • Active and foraging at night
  • Highly agile

Home range

Estimated 6–30ha

Distribution

  • Populations declining throughout the western and southern areas of range
  • Other populations have become more isolated. Isolated populations in Queensland include a colony at the artificial Perseverance Dam near Crows Nest.

Distinct populations:

  • Northern group – south-east Queensland into north-east New South Wales (estimated 10 000–20 000 animals).
  • Central group – south of the Hunter River to south-eastern New South Wales (800–900)
  • Southern or Victorian – Snowy River National Park (<20)

Threats

In order of severity:

  • Foxes, feral cats and wild dogs
  • Habitat degradation and loss including weed invasion
  • Increasing urbanisation and intensification of agriculture and grazing in south-east Queensland.
  • Changes in fire regimes
  • Disease passed from feral cats (toxoplasmosis and hyatidosis)

Conservation

Did you know ?

Northern-most populations of brush-tailed rock wallabies in Queensland possibly interbreed to form a hybrid with Herbert’s rock wallaby in the upper Brisbane River Valley.

Status

  • Southern group: critically endangered
  • New South Wales and Queensland populations: vulnerable.

Activities

WPSQ Toowoomba Branch and head office have campaigned to conserve the brush-tailed rock wallaby population at Perseverance Dam near Crows Nest, Queensland.

More information

New South Wales National Parks Information

Crows Nest National Park

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

Written by Wildlifeqld