Eastern Hare Wallaby, Lagorchestes leporides

The eastern hare-wallaby (Lagorchestes leporides), historically named the common hare-wallaby, is an extinct marsupial that was once found in southeastern Australia. Its range included Victoria, New South Wales, and the area near the Murray Region in South Australia. It preferred to live in open areas like grassy plains. John Gould discovered this species in 1844, along with many other wallabies.

The eastern hare-wallaby reached an average body length of 1.6 feet, with a tail length of up to twelve inches. It was slightly longer than its living relative, the rufous hare-wallaby, and varied from black to yellowish brown in color. Although this species is extinct, it is known to have been nocturnal and solitary in nature. It was found that this species was very fast and agile, after John Gould witnessed its escape from a pack of dogs. The wallaby leapt out from its protective bush, ran 1,640 feet, doubled back, and then jumped over Gould at a height of 5.9 feet.

The last recorded eastern hare-wallaby, a female, was found in 1889 in New South Wales. Although this was the last sighting, the certainty of the species’ extinction was questioned until the 1930’s. It is not known how the species became extinct, because the main predator to wallaby species, the red fox was not yet in its range and extensive farming had not yet occurred.  It thought that the extinction could have occurred due to predation by introduced cat species, variations in fire regimes, or habitat loss due to trampling cattle.

Image Caption: Taxidermied Eastern Hare-wallaby at Melbourne Museum. Credit: Peter Halasz/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)