Bridled Nail-tail Wallaby, Onychogalea fraenata
The bridled nail-tail wallaby (Onychogalea fraenata), also known as the flashjack, is a marsupial that can be found in three areas in Queensland, Australia, although these are isolated. This species prefers a habitat near pasture edges, although this is only its modern habitat. This species bares a white stripe that extends from the neck to the chest along the shoulders, and a pointy growth on the end of the tail. This species also bares a black stripe that runs down its back. The tail spike can reach an average length of .2 inches. These features are where the wallaby drives its name. The nail-tail feature appears on two other species of wallaby, although one, the crescent nail-tail wallaby, is extinct. The bridled nail-tail wallaby can reach an average length of 3.2 feet, with females appearing to grow slightly smaller than males. It can weigh between 8.8 and 17.6 pounds.
The bridled nail-tail wallaby is mainly nocturnal, but is also active at dusk. It spends its days sleeping in hollow areas near bushes or trees. It is typically solitary, although it will occasionally gather in groups of up to four individuals when food availability is scarce. After breeding, a female wallaby will have a pregnancy period of 25 days. The baby is born inside of the mother’s pouch, and will continue to develop for up to four months.
During the European settlement of Australia, the bridled nail-tail wallaby held a large range that extended from the eastern coastline to the Great Dividing Range in the west. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the population of this species significantly declined, and between the years of 1937 and 1973, there were no recorded sightings of it. One man reported that there was a living group of these wallabies in Dingo, Queensland after reading an article about them in a magazine. After this red-discovery, conservation efforts have been put into effect in order to save this species. These include private, captive breeding programs, which have resulted in reintroduced populations in Taunton and Idalia National Parks, as well as a private reserve. The current population is estimated to number between 400 and 600 individuals.
The main threat to the bridled nail-tail wallaby is hunting by introduced species such as feral cats and foxes. Conservation efforts focus on breeding as well as protection from these predators. This wallaby is important to scientific research because its immune system appears to be stronger than those of other marsupials. The bridled nail-tail wallaby appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Endangered.”
Image Caption: Onychogalea fraenata. Credit: John Gould/Wikipedia