Glasgow Zoo Park
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Wallabies
Red-necked Wallabies Macropus rufogriseus

Located: S.E. Australia & Tasmania

Habitat: Brushland

Status: Common

Food in Wild: Grass and leaves

Gestation: 38-40 days

No. Young: 1

Lifespan: 12 years approx.
Red-necked Wallabie

All kangaroos and wallabies have Australia as their country of origin. However, Red-necked wallabies have been kept in zoos and private estates in the UK for at least 200 years.

Provided they have dry, draught-free shelters and plenty of food, these animals are hardy and reproduce well. When conditions are favourable, wallabies can increase in numbers amazingly quickly. A female can simultaneously be pregnant, have a newly born baby attached to one nipple in her pouch, and be feeding an older, almost self-supporting youngster with the other nipple. These young ones can in turn start breeding when a year old.

This rapid reproduction and the competition with domestic livestock for grass and water, and the accidental damage done to fences and vehicles are some of the reasons why in many parts of Australia the more common wallabies and kangaroos are widely regarded as pests. 100,000 are culled each year and are used for the production of high-quality leather and for pet food.

In the UK Red-necked wallabies have been living in a feral ( semi-wild ) state since the 1940s in part of the Peak District in Derbyshire.

Fergie the Albino red necked wallaby

This mutation is a autosomal recessive gene. They all descend from Whipsnade Zoo stock

In Scotland, Lady Arran maintains a very large colony on one of the larger islands; Inchcailloch, on Loch Lomond, from where, in severe winters, some hop across the frozen loch surface to live in the woodlands at the lochside. From time-to-time these are seen (or narrowly missed) by car-borne tourists, causing great consternation.

Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire has maintained Red-necked wallabies at large within its enclosed 200-hectare park since the 1930s. There are at least 500 animals and seem capable of doubling their numbers every couple of years, if not controlled by harsh weather or exported to other collections world-wide.
Presently there are still a few wild living wallabies in the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire.

We would like to keep our animals in a more expansive manner, but they are very vulnerable to disturbance by foxes and dogs.

 

Siting for Wallaby Housing

Wallabies are generally quite shy, so when planning a location for housing within an enclosure, care should be taken to ensure that it is positioned somewhere where the wallabies can get out of public sight if they want to. Having your housing right next to the public viewing fence for instance isn't a good idea, as the animal would have the stress of having to pass crowds of noisy pointing people to gain access to it's 'safe area', so it may stay out in the open whilst feeling threatened and this sort of stress can actually kill a wallaby.

Consider the size and shape of the enclosure and position the housing in an area where the animal can feel safe and secure, have quick access to safe shelter and yet still be viewed by the public. Wallabies are very hardy animals and tend to sit out in the pouring rain and in the snow, but any housing that they have should have the entrance facing downwind - that is, when they are in it they shouldn't be getting gusts of cold air blasting in. Some zoos provide heat lamps inside housing, but our guys cope fine with a good bed of straw and hay.

Building materials used - This depends on how many animals you have, and what sort of climate your zoo is in. At Glasgow Zoopark, we have a group of 5 wallabies including a 7 month old joey (as at May 2000), and they are housed in a brick walled concrete floored block, measuring around 7ft x 5ft. The height of the actual area which they sleep in is about 5ft. The concrete floor is good as it won't get damaged from the urine of five animals, whereas a wooden floor may rot quickly and retain odour with the same amount of animals.

We had one old wallaby who lived an his own and for which one of our keeper's father, Mr Rennie, actually made a customed designed hut for him. It was constructed out of pine cladding which was weather proofed and had a plywood floor covered with rubber matting. The roof was slightly sloped and covered in roofing felt and the small entrance, which was just big enough for him to crawl through (thus giving him a sense of security) was at the side so he could crawl in and move to the side and be out of the wind, and the whole front was on a hinge and snib to allow easy access for cleaning. It was about 4 and a half feet high, again for his security and it was 16 square feet - small enough for him to feel safe, yet large enough for him to lie down flat out with his tail stretched out. Because it was for one animal, these materials worked very well with regards to cleaning and maintenance.

Habitat Management - The number of animals you have dictates how much waste and mess there will be and therefore how often you need to clean up both inside the housing and out in the enclosure. External habitat management depends on what type of enclosure you have.

  • Is it a large area / small area, is a mixed or single specied exhibit (not just wallabies) does it have a lot of plants?
  • Are the plants harmful to the animal?
  • Do they need to be removed?
  • Does the grass grow rapidly? etc.

Management of the enclosure is subject to what is in the enclosure which needs to be managed.

Our wallabies have a large grassy area, and a bushy back secret hide from the public area, both of which are low maintenance. Perhaps a bit of pruning and grass cutting in the summer. Apart from that, the wallabies are left to it - the only interference they get from us is feeding watering and cleaning, which they don't mind at all.

Welfare of the captive wallaby -

The best thing you can do for your wallabies is to do a bit of research into the species, find out how it lives in the wild and emulate it as best you can within your zoo / wildlife park. Be observant, and provide them with:

  • a predator proof enclosure (foxes can scale a 6ft fence with ease when hungry)
  • which is free of any plants which might harm them,
  • a healthy balanced diet,
  • access to fresh water at all times,
  • shelter from the sun, wind and public, and a bit of peace and quiet.

Wallabies do best when they are left to be wallabies - which most of the time consists of eating grass and sleeping!

Ollie Peeks Out!