The swamp wallaby has a coat of coarse fur which is colored dark brown or charcoal on top with yellow and red-orange on the underside and at the base of the ears.
Their face is dark in color except for a yellow or brown stripe running down the cheek from the ear to the nose.
Their strong back legs allow them to hop but their gait is unlike other kangaroos. Their head is held lower and the tail sits straight out behind their body.
At the end of the body is a long tail which may measure between 64 and 86cm (25-34in) long. This is colored black with some individuals having a white tip on the tail.
Males are larger than females. They can measure between 72 and 85cm (28 and 33in) long and weigh 12.3-20.5kg (27-45lbs).
Females measure 67-75cm (26-30in) long and weigh 10.3-15.4kg (22.7-34lbs).
The swamp wallaby is a herbivore. Their diet includes grasses, ferns, fungi, bark, shrubs and leaves.
They are able to eat plants which are poisonous to other species such as hemlock.
Australia is the native home of the swamp wallaby. Here they can be found in the east of the country throughout Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
A number of populations are located on islands off the coast of Queensland.
An introduced population exists in New Zealand.
They make their home in forests such as rainforest and dry schlerophyll forest along with woodlands, heath and swampy areas.
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Breeding takes place year round.
As a marsupial the female will give birth to a poorly developed young which is raised in the pouch. At birth the young weigh as little as 1g. Females have four teats but most often one joey is born. Twins have been recorded on some occasions.
Their gestation period is 33-38 days with a 34 day estrus cycle. They are the only marsupial which has a gestation period that’s greater than the estrus cycle.
As a result of this females will mate again in the last few days of their gestation allowing for almost continuous breeding. This allows two embryos to develop at the same time. One fetus grows in one uterus while the other hosts a developing embryo.
Young spend 8-9 months after birth developing in their pouch. Once they start to suckle the developing embryo will pause development until the joey leaves the pouch. The second embryo then finishes its development and is born after 33-38 days.
Once the first joey leaves the pouch it will continue to suckle for 14 months.
Sexual maturity is reached by 18 months old.
Swamp wallabies are solitary outside of mothers with their young. Some may gather in small groups at feeding sites.
They are more diurnal than other wallabies They will wake during the day to forage in the undergrowth. Feeding in the open occurs at night.
Threats are scared off using a growl.
Predators and Threats
Natural predators include dingoes and eagles. Introduced predators such as the domestic dog will hunt them.
Humans hunt swamp wallabies in small numbers for their coat but the coarse nature of their fur means they are not often targeted.
Another threat presented by humans is habitat loss and degradation along with vehicle strikes.
The variation in coloration between the back and underside led to their scientific name bicolor.
They are also known as the black wallaby, stinky or stinker. The last two nicknames came from the smell which is given off if their meat is cooked.
Swamp wallabies are placed in their own genus wallabia. This is as males have 11 chromosomes and females 10 compared to the 16 chromosomes of all other wallabies.
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Ellis, J. 2000. “Wallabia bicolor” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 13, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Wallabia_bicolor/
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NSW National Parks. 2020. Swamp Wallaby | Australian Animals | NSW National Parks. [online] Available at: <https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/plants-and-animals/swamp-wallaby> [Accessed 14 October 2020].
Walkaboutpark.com.au. 2020. Swamp Wallaby. [online] Available at: <http://www.walkaboutpark.com.au/mammals/swamp-wallaby> [Accessed 14 October 2020].
Australia Zoo. 2020. Swamp Wallaby – Australia Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.australiazoo.com.au/wildlife/our-animals/swamp-wallaby/> [Accessed 14 October 2020].
Menkhorst, P., Denny, M., Ellis, M., Winter, J., Burnett, S., Lunney, D. & van Weenen, J. 2016. Wallabia bicolor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T40575A21952658. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T40575A21952658.en. Downloaded on 14 October 2020.
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