Swamp Wallaby, Wallabia bicolor

The swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor), also known as the fern wallaby, stinker or black stinker, the black pademelon, the black wallaby, and the black-tailed wallaby, is a marsupial that can be found in Australia. It is the only member in its genus. Its range extends from the northern areas of Cape York in Queensland, down the coast to southwestern areas of Victoria. It prefers a habitat within dense woodlands and forests. In Queensland, it prefers to reside in Brigalow scrub.

The swamp wallaby varies in size depending upon the sex, with males reaching an average body length of thirty inches and females reaching a length of about twenty-seven inches. The tail length is typically the same as the body for both males and females. The average weight for males is thirty-seven pounds, while females weigh an average of twenty-nine pounds. This species derives its scientific name of bicolor from its fur, which can vary in color from the typical grey of macropods to dark brown or black on the dorsal area. The chest can vary from yellowish to orange, and it holds one light stripe on each cheek. The paws are typically darker in color and the tip of the tail can be white.

The swamp wallaby can breed year round, and displays a unique type of embryonic diapause in which the pregnancy period is longer than the oestrous cycle. Both males and females can breed between fifteen and eighteen months of age. After a pregnancy period of up to thirty-eight days, one young is born within its mother’s pouch. Although the baby wallaby remains in the pouch for up to nine months, it will continue to nurse until fifteen months of age.

Although the swamp wallaby is solitary in nature, it will often gather in small groups when foraging. It can consume a variety of plants including both native and introduced types, agricultural, shrub, and pasture types. Its preferred diet includes browsing types of shrubs and bushes. This diet is not typical to wallaby species, which usually prefer grazing types of plants. This species is not often hunted for food or commercial reasons, because natives find it undesirable to eat and its fur is not particularly attractive. The swamp wallaby appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

Image Caption: Female Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolor) feeding, showing the species unusual preference for browsing compared to most other macropods that tend to graze. Credit: jjron/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)