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Animal Info - Bridled Nail-tailed Wallaby

(Other Names: 斑纹距尾袋鼠, 尖尾兔袋鼠, タヅナツメオワラビー, Bridled Nailtail Wallaby, Bridled Wallaby, Canguro Rabipelado Oriental, Flash Jack, Kurznagel-Känguruh, Merrin, Onychogale Bridé, Valabi-de-cauda-pontiaguda, Wallaby de cauda pontiaguda, Zügel-Känguruh)

Onychogalea fraenata

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Bridled Nail-tailed Wallaby #1 (58 Kb JPEG) (Wildlife Images); Bridled Nail-tailed Wallaby #2 (30 Kb JPEG) (Museum Victoria); Bridled Nail-tailed Wallaby #3 (83 Kb JPEG) (Terrambiente)

The bridled nail-tailed wallaby weighs 4 to 6 kg (9 to 20 lb). This small kangaroo is mainly nocturnal, and while it occasionally moves about in daylight, it spends most of the day in a shallow nest scratched out beneath a tussock of grass or a bush. It shelters by day in the edges of brigalow scrubs and feeds by night in the more open surrounding grassy eucalypt woodlands. Its diet seems to consist mainly of the roots of various species of coarse grass and other herbaceous vegetation. Nail-tailed wallabies are shy and usually solitary, although females with young and groups of 4 to 5 animals have been reported.

The bridled nail-tailed wallaby was common in Australia in the mid-19th century over much of inland eastern Australia west of the Great Dividing Range, and ranged from the Murray River, Victoria, in the south, to Charters Towers Queensland, in the north. Around the turn of the century, it was still sufficiently common for bounties to be paid for its scalp from 1880 - 1916. It declined dramatically during the last century. By the 1960's it was presumed extinct. However, it was rediscovered in 1973 in a 100 sq km (38 sq mi) area in central Queensland near Dingo. By 1996 the only known significant population occurred in and around Taunton National Park near Dingo.

Factors contributing to the decline of the bridled nail-tailed wallaby include shooting for fur and as a pest species (especially around the turn of the century), habitat modification, introduced predators (fox) and possibly competition from introduced rabbits. Competition with domestic grazing stock, especially sheep, has been proposed by some as the most important single factor.


Tidbits

*** This wallaby has a horny pointed 'nail' on the tip of its tail, giving it the name 'nail-tailed'.

*** The bridled nail-tailed wallaby hops with a fast, smooth movement (hence its nickname 'Flash Jack').


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

  • 1960's: Insufficiently Known
  • 1970's - 1994: Endangered
  • 1996 - 2004: Endangered (Criteria: A1a, C1+2b) (Population Trend: Decreasing) (IUCN 2004)

Countries Where the Bridled Nail-tailed Wallaby Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Australia (Queensland) (IUCN 2004).

History of Distribution:

The bridled nail-tailed wallaby was common in Australia in the mid-19th century over much of inland eastern Australia west of the Great Dividing Range, and ranged from the Murray River, Victoria, in the south, to Charters Towers Queensland, in the north. In 1866, Krefft called it 'the most common of all the smaller species of the kangaroo tribe' in northwest Victoria and southwest New South Wales (Flannery 1990). Around the turn of the century, it was still sufficiently common for bounties to be paid for its scalp from 1880 - 1916. It declined dramatically during the last century. The last record of its existence in New South Wales is from an animal taken near Manilla, in the northeast portion of the state, in 1924. It seems to have disappeared from Victoria long before this.

By the 1960's it was presumed extinct, its last record being from the Dawson Valley, Queensland in the 1930's. However, it was rediscovered in 1973 in a 100 sq km (38 sq mi) area in central Queensland near Dingo. In 1981, it was reported to be common over an area of about 110 sq km (43 sq mi). By 1996 the only known significant population occurred in and around Taunton National Park near Dingo.

Distribution Map (4 Kb GIF) (Maxwell et al. 1996)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Factors contributing to the decline of the bridled nail-tailed wallaby include shooting for fur and as a pest species (especially around the turn of the century), habitat modification, introduced predators (fox) and possibly competition from introduced rabbits. Competition with domestic grazing stock, especially sheep, has been proposed by some as the most important single factor.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

The bridled nail-tailed wallaby weighs 4 to 8 kg (9 to 18 lb).

Habitat:

It previously occupied Acacia shrubland and grassy woodland in semi-arid regions. Currently it shelters by day in the edges of brigalow scrubs and feeds by night in the more open surrounding grassy eucalypt woodlands. There have been few sightings recorded in cleared areas except during drought.

Birth Season:

The young of the bridled nail-tailed wallaby is usually born in May.

Birth Rate:

1 young is born each season.

Maximum Age:

One animal lived in captivity for about 5.5 years.

Diet:

Its diet consists of mixed forbs, grass and browse, the latter becoming dominant during the drier seasons.  It is a browser and a grazer.   The forepaws are used to rake aside dry material in tussocks and prostrate forbs to expose greener leaves and shoots. (Strahan 1995)

Behavior:

The bridled nail-tailed wallaby is mainly nocturnal, beginning to feed at dusk. While it occasionally moves about in daylight, it spends most of the day in a shallow nest scratched out beneath a tussock of grass or a bush. When in danger, it may hide in a hollow log or crouch down in long grass or beneath a low shrub, where it will remain even when closely approached.

Social Organization:

Nail-tailed wallabies are shy and usually solitary. The bridled nail-tail has been reported to appear in larger numbers only when the dry season progresses and the pasture deteriorates. Females may be seen with young, but larger groups of 4 to 5 animals have also been observed.


References

Burbidge & McKenzie 1989, Burton & Pearson 1987, Curry-Lindahl 1972, Flannery 1990, IUCN 1966, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Kennedy 1992, Maxwell et al. 1996, Menkhorst 1995, Museum Victoria, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Oryx 1981, Strahan 1995, Terrambiente, Wildlife Images


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Last modified: January 5, 2005;

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