These wallabies are commonly known as the red-necked wallaby on mainland Australia while in Tasmania they are known as Bennet's wallaby.
Alongside the native population in Australia this is one of the most commonly seen macropod species in zoos across the globe. A number of invasive populations have also established across the globe including in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Date Published - May 7, 2017
Date Last Updated - June 13 2023
Wild - 15 years
Captive - 15 years
What does a Red-Necked Wallaby look like?
The back of the red necked wallaby is grey with the shoulders being reddish. Their underside is white. A white stripe also runs along the top of the lip. The muzzle and paws are black. A pouch is present on the underside of females.
As these animals grow their molars are pushed forward and eventually out of their mouth. Older animals can be recognized as they may only have one or two teeth left.
Albino variants are bred in captivity and are also sometimes present in wild populations.
Tail length varies between 62.3 and 87.6cm (2.0 and 2.9ft) long. On the top the tail is grey and the underside is white. It is long and tapers to a point at its end.
A male red necked wallaby is typically larger than the female and will have darker coloured fur. Their body measures up to 82cm (32in) from the head to the base of the tail. They can reach weights of up to 26kg (59lb).
How does the Red-Necked Wallaby survive in its habitat?
To help them survive during periods of dry weather they can retain water from urea being processed in the kidneys.
Their long tail helps them to balance when they are hopping.
What does a Red-Necked Wallaby eat?
The red necked wallaby is an herbivore. They feed upon grasses, herbs, fruit, roots, leaves and weeds. In a study grasses represented 3/4 of their diet. Most of their grazing will take place during the night.
In a dry spell, they can obtain some of their water needs from tree roots and grasses which they consume.
Where do you the find the Red-Necked Wallaby?
Australia is the native home of the red necked wallaby. Here they can be found throughout Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania sticking to the areas nearest the coast. They also occur on a number of islands throughout the Bass Strait.
A range of introduced populations also exist across the planet. Most of these are escaped animals from zoo populations or private collections. These include groups in Ireland, England, France and New Zealand.
Where can a Red-Necked Wallaby survive?
They live in the scrub, woodland and eucalypt forests and will seek shelter in the vegetated gullies. Because of land clearing their grazing areas have increased.
How does a Red-Necked Wallaby produce its young?
The two populations of red necked wallaby exhibit different breeding patterns. On the mainland, they breed year-round while in Tasmania breeding only takes place from January through till July.
A male courts the female by sniffing her pouch and rump. He will flick his tail and paws while she hits him with her paws. Once she is receptive they may engage in a small fight before mating.
A joey is born after a 30-day gestation period. On a rare occasion twins are born. At birth a joey is the size of a jellybean, blind and furless. They weigh under 1g (0.04oz) Following the birth, they make the climb up the stomach and in to the pouch. Here the joey attaches to a teat where it will suckle while it grows.
The mother will come back in to oestrus as early as 2 days after mating. A red necked wallaby can complete embryonic diapause a process in which they delay the implantation of the egg so it does not begin to develop. In Tasmania they may hold this embryo for up to 8 months so the joey conceived in the last season is not born till the next.
Most wallabies replace any joeys which leave the pouch immediately but this does not occur in the red-necked wallaby. Instead they will wait until the next breeding season before beginning development of the next joey.
A red necked wallaby will remain in its mother’s pouch till it is 280 days old. Throughout their time in the pouch the milk changes gradually to suit the developmental needs of the growing joey. Once they are out of the pouch they may still place their head inside the pouch to suckle. They will remain with the mother out of the pouch for a further 4 to 5 months.
Females will reach sexual maturity at 14 months old while in males this occurs at 19 months old.
What does a Red-Necked Wallaby do during its day?
Most of the activity undertaken by the red necked wallaby occurs around dawn and dusk and through the night. During the day they rest and sleep in a covered area such as woodland or gullies.
If they become too warm they will lick their forearms, as air evaporates off of this it will help to cool their body.
They are a largely solitary animal only gathering together in a group, known as a mob, should resources be plentiful.
These animals produce a narrow range of vocalizations including a hiss or cough. Much communication occurs visually through the use of the ears and through the use of scent marking.
When moving, they hop. This method of movement helps them to move at speeds of up to 64km/h (40mph). The tail helps to control balance when hopping. They can also swim using a technique likened to dog paddling.
Predators and Threats
What stops the Red-Necked Wallaby from surviving and thriving?
Predators of the red necked wallaby include dingoes and wedge tailed eagles. In Tasmania the Bennet's wallaby subspecies will fall prey to Tasmanian devils. Invasive species such as dogs and the red fox may prey upon young animals.
If a predator approaches these animals will slap the ground with their feet. This helps to warn other nearby wallabies of the danger.
These animals are considered to have a stable population. Some areas show a small decline in numbers while others have begun to increase.
In some areas these animals are considered an agricultural pest and they may be culled under a license scheme from the government. Commercial harvesting also occurs in parts of their range to supply the meat trade. In some areas their meat is considered a delicacy.
This species is a regular victim of vehicle strikes across their range. Inappropriate fire regimes further impact on this species.
The Tasmanian subspecies of the red necked wallaby is also known as Bennett’s wallaby. A range of alternative names have been used across Australia for this species including - brush wallaby, red-shouldered wallaby and the red wallaby.
This species was first described for modern science during 1817.
Two subspecies of the red necked wallaby are recognized. M. rufogriseus rufogriseus covers the animals living on mainland Australia while M. rufogriseus banksianus occurs in Tasmania and on the Bass Strait Islands.
Pemberton, D. et al. (2008) ‘The diet of the tasmanian devil, Sarcophilus Harrisii, as determined from analysis of Scat and stomach contents’, Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, pp. 13–22. doi:10.26749/rstpp.142.2.13.
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Red-necked Wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus) Fact Sheet. c2011. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed June 13 2023]. http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/red-necked wallaby
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Bennett’s wallaby (2021) Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Available at: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/bennetts-wallaby (Accessed: 13 June 2023).
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Australia Zoo Staff (no date) Red-necked wallaby, Australia Zoo. Available at: https://www.australiazoo.com.au/wildlife/our-animals/red-necked-wallaby (Accessed: 13 June 2023).
Red-necked wallaby (2019) People’s Trust for Endangered Species. Available at: https://ptes.org/get-informed/facts-figures/red-necked-wallaby/ (Accessed: 13 June 2023).
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