Wallaby, brindled nail-tailed
Description and biology
A member of the kangaroo family, the brindled nail-tailed wallaby gets its name from its silver-gray coat with dark flecks (“brindled”) and from the horny spur on the end of its tail (“nail-tailed”). An average brindled nail-tailed wallaby has a head and body length of 17.5 to 23.5 inches (44.5 to 59.7 centimeters) and weighs about 11 pounds (5 kilograms). Its tail is almost as long as its body, measuring 13.5 to 19.5 inches (34.3 to 49.5 centimeters).
This wallaby is a solitary animal that rests in a shallow depression under a shrub, tree, or log during the day. At night, it feeds on a variety of grasses and herbs. Dingoes, wild Australian dogs, are the animal’s main predator.
Wallabies are marsupials, or mammals whose young continue to develop after birth in a pouch on the outside of the mother’s body. Other than this fact, biologists (people who study living organisms) know very little about the breeding habits of this particular species of wallaby.
Although considered extinct by 1930, a small population of brindled nail-tailed wallabies was found during the 1970s and is now protected on a reserve.
Habitat and current distribution
The only population of brindled nail-tailed wallabies is near the town of Dingo in the northeastern Australian state of Queensland. In the early 1980s, biologists estimated that their population numbered 800.
During the day, brindled nail-tailed wallabies prefer to inhabit forest areas dominated by trees or shrubs. At night, they feed in open woodland or grassland areas.
History and conservation measures
The brindled nail-tailed wallaby was once common throughout eastern and southeastern Australia. In the early 1800s, farmers and ranchers moved into the animal’s range, bringing with them domestic livestock. The brindled nail-tailed wallaby was then forced to compete for food with these grazing animals, especially sheep. The farmers and ranchers soon considered the wallaby a pest and began paying to have the animal killed. By 1930, it was considered extinct.
In 1973, a small population of brindled nail-tailed wallabies was discovered near the town of Dingo. Later that decade, the Taunton Scientific Reserve was established to protect this new population. The majority of surviving brindled nail-tailed wallabies now exist there.