Banded Hare-wallaby, Lagostrophus fasciatus
The banded hare-wallaby (Lagostrophus fasciatus), also known as a mernine, is a marsupial that can natively be found on the islands of Dorre and Bernier, off the coast of Western Australia. One small population has been introduced onto Faure Island, which appears to be growing in size. This species holds two recognized subspecies.
The banded hare-wallaby can reach an average body length of up to 2.6 feet with an average tail length of 1.2 feet and a weight of around 3.7 pounds. Its fur is typically grey in color, with silver and yellow fur occurring in small spots along the back and lighter grey fur on the underbelly. Dark stripes of fur extend from the mid back to the base of the tail.
The banded hare-wallaby is nocturnal and social in nature, living in groups. Groups will nest in thick vegetation, particularly in Acacia ligulata undergrowth. Males are known to be extremely aggressive, especially when competing for food. The diet of this species consists of many types of vegetation included grasses and fruit.
The breeding season for the banded-hare wallaby occurs between the months of December to September. After a pregnancy period of several months, mothers will give birth to one baby within their pouch. Young will remain in their mother’s pouch for up to six months and will not be weaned until at least three months later. It is possible for some females to give birth twice a year, particularly if their first baby has perished. Sexual maturity is reached at one year of age, but most individuals will not breed until two years of age.
The banded hare-wallaby was once found on mainland Australia with a range that included South Australia and southeastern areas of Western Australia. It is thought that the species may have been eradicated from the mainland in 1963, although the last recorded sighting of it in that area occurred in 1903. Habitat loss, hunting by predators, and competition with other species for food are all well accepted factors in the eradication of this species on the mainland. The banded hare-wallaby currently appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservations status of “Endangered.”