Wallaby mob
A "mob" of wallabies.

There are several species of wallabies in collections in the US and this text will be directed to the three most popular species, Bennetts, Damas and Red-necked Pademelons. These three wallabies differ greatly in size, so the diets must be scaled to the appropriate animal.

Wallabies are found in Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, New Zealand and a few nearby islands.

Red-necked Pademelons: Thylogale thetis is the red-necked pademelon and found in parts of Australia and has been introduced into New Zealand. It is the smallest of these three species.

Dama Wallabies, also called Tammar Wallabies: Macropus eugenii These little wallabies are found in Western and south Australia, New Zealand and several islands.

Albino bennets wallabies.

Bennett's Wallabies, also called red-necked wallabies: Macropus rufogriseus These are the largest of the three species and are found in Queensland and South Australia, Tasmania and several islands. They are 30 to 36" in body length, with a tail 24-30 inches long. They are about 3 feet tall when sitting.

Order: Marsupialia
Family: Macropodidae
Genus: Thylogale (Pademelons)
Genus: Petrogale (Rock Wallabies)
Genus: Macropus (Dama, Parma, Bennetts, Brush, Agile)

These wallabies are mainly nocturnal in the wild but do some foraging, loafing and sunbathing during the day. They have small front legs, each armed with five digits ending in a sharp claw. The hind legs are extremely powerful ending in four digits. The foot is elongated with two of the toes much longer than the other two. The tail is exceptionally strong, muscled and long. It is used by the animal as a third leg, a prop when sitting and a balance when leaping.

Females have a forward opening pouch with four teats. Births are usually single, but occasionally twins and immediately after birthing, the female mates again. The embryo that results from this mating is held in 'embryonic diapause' or delayed birth. When the pouched young is weaned or dies, that embryo resumes growth, is 'born' and enters the pouch. A few days later, the female mates again, to hold an embryo in 'diapause.'

Their dentition is i3/1, c0-1/0, p2/2, m4/4 x 2 for a total of 32-34 teeth. This dentition is suitable for grazing and browsing diets. Their normal body temperature is 96-99 degrees F. Babies can be a degree or two higher.

Adult wallabies regulate their temperatures on very hot days by salivating and licking their forearms to cause heat dissipation.

Red-necked Pademelons: They are the smallest of the three species. The head-body length is 11 to 24 inches with a tail nearly as long. Their weight is 4 to 20 lb. Their height is 10 to 14 inches. The soft thick fur is gray except where it is rust - on the shoulders, neck and under the tail. The underside is lighter in color. They are found in the forests and grasslands. They are curious and gentle down quite well. They can easily be maintained in groups although occasionally they may be aggressive to the same sex. In the wild, they inhabit the forest edges. They have thick, soft fur and rounded ears. Males are generally larger in size than females. Their main foods consist of grasses, herbs and leaves. They hold their food in their forepaws when eating. They are capable of making various vocalizations such as the male's courting sounds, the female calling for her young and the threatening growls. They are thought to be closely related to the Dama Wallabies! .

Dama Wallabies, also called Tammar Wallabies: The head and body length is about 26 inches with a tail about 15-17 inches long. They sit about 18" tall and weigh between 9 and 22 lb. They are gray to brownish black with lighter underside. Their ears are pointed slightly. The hind feet are missing the first digit and the next two are fused with a single claw, and the fourth digit is much longer. They have rust colored legs. They live up to 14 years. Their main foods are grasses and native vegetation. They travel in well-developed runways through out the vegetation. They have the habit of resting with their tail forward between their legs, instead of behind them. They also give a warning thump with their rear legs when alarmed. In the wild, they are normally solitary or in pairs. They are extremely hardy and resourceful and they have been known to survive by drinking sea water during severe droughts.

Bennett's Wallabies, also called red-necked wallabies: They are 30 to 36" in body length, with a tail 24-30 inches long. They are about 3 feet tall when sitting. They weigh between 35 and 60 lb. They are grayish brown with red-brown neck and shoulders. They inhabit ranges over 3000 feet that are grass-covered. They are predominately grazers but will browse on some trees and bushes. They follow the same paths almost daily. They regurgitate their food when resting and re-eat it. They have well-defined home territories and related females may have territories that overlap somewhat. They live 12-15 years.

Species Head/Body Height Weight
Pademelon 11-24 10-14 4-20
Dama 26 18 9-22
Bennett 30-36 36 35-60

Red-necked Pademelons: Births usually occur in September. The estrous cycle is about 30 days and the normal gestation is 30 days. The mother has four teats in the pouch but single births are the normal. Twins are occasional reported. Weaning is at four months although the young vacates the pouch occasionally but returns to nurse for another four weeks. Sexual maturity is at 9-15 months.

Dama Wallabies: These wallabies have a gestation of 25 - 28 days and are weaned at 8 to 9 months. Normal birthing season is January to July. They leave the pouch at 7 months and suckle until nine months of age. Females are sexually mature at 9-14 months, and males at 2 years.

Bennetts' Wallabies: Gestation is 30 days, with 274-280 days in the pouch. They release from the teat at 50-75 days and open their eyes at 135 days. They are born naked and fur covers their body at 5-1/2 to 6 months. The vacate the pouch at 40 weeks but can remain suckling until they are weaned at 15-17 months. Females are sexually mature at 14-20 months and males at 19-24 months.

In captivity
Wallabies can be very gentle if they have been hand-raised. Wild caught specimens or animals that have not had a lot of human contact can be full of fear. A fearful wallaby will run into and up fences, and walls in attempt to get away. Wallabies should be purchased by you while they are still on the bottle so that they will adapt to you and your environment most readily. Remember that these babies will take 24 hour care until they are weaned.

Wallabies like to loaf in the shade on a hot day and sunbathe on a cold day if the wind is mild. Wallabies will need heat in the winter if it is very cold. The larger wallabies can tolerate lower temperatures than the smaller species.

Male wallabies can fight over females during breeding season, so you must have an enclosure large enough for the submissive males to get away from the dominant males or they may get hurt or even killed.

Enclosures for captive wallabies must be checked and rechecked to prevent escape and prevent entering of dogs and feral animals. The wire should either be buried 6" in the ground or attached to a footing to prevent it from being lifted. Most wallabies do not intentionally dig to get out but they might dig a wallow next to a fence, and therefore provide a means for escape or entrance of a predator. Never turn a newly obtained wallaby into a run or it may crash into the fence and kill or injure itself. It should be confined in an area with solid walls and a place where it can escape, such as a small house, a tunnel made of plywood or bales of hay piled up like a wall. Fences should be burlaped with very nervous animals to prevent them from crashing into them. The new orange plastic construction fencing works well OVER regular fencing to act as a sight barrier. The recommended size of a pen is as follows: Height - Four times the head + body length; Length - Eight times! the head + body length; Width - Four times the head + body length. This the size for one animal. The length and width increases with the number of animals.

Wallabies eat a high percentage of fiber in the wild and a relatively low amount of protein. New animals that have been fed soft foods MUST be allowed to condition their mouths gradually with no sharp stems or grain hulls. Dry grass hay is necessary at all times because it is high in fiber. There are several different philosophies when it comes to feed wallabies. Here are a few:

Happy Hopper Wallaby Feed is formulated specifically for wallabies and kangaroos and has the necessary fiber content. This is highly recommended by many people involved in raising kangaroos and wallabies. Their address is in the supplier section of this text. The problem with this feed is the availability and freight costs.

Another diet is:
  • Grass hay free choice. Must contain no sharp pieces.
  • Rabbit chow free choice
  • Trace mineral block
  • Powdered vitamins with Vitamin E and Selenium
  • Alfalfa hay* with stems removed or high quality grass hay
  • Greens, chopped
  • Carrots, yams, apples (1/2 cup per animal)
  • 1/cup monkey chow

  • If you would like to use pelleted food, supplemented with fresh vegetables and grass hay, you might choose the following diet:

    Purina Pure Pride pellets for horses are commonly used by some breeders while others use Lagamorph DietO, MazuriO ADF-16 Herbivore (This super diet has the added Vitamin E and selenium needed by macropods) and Rabbit pellets, all by Purina Feeds. You can mix these together and feed free choice. Supplement with fresh veggies and grass hay. The Pure PrideO is very reasonably priced.

    Vegetables and fruits for wallabies can include carrots, yams, apples, corn, broccoli, celery, grapes, romaine lettuce, endive. Use sweet fruits sparingly. *Remember, and I cannot stress it enough, food should not be sharp or coarse or it can promote injury to the mouth and resultant lumpy jaw. Providing brush or dry grass to chew on toughens the mouth and helps to reduce the incidence of the disease.

    We hesitate to list quantities because individuals vary according to size, sex, maturity, activity level, stage of pregnancy or lactation. Use this only as a guide, and monitor the animals weight and appetite. If the animal is gaining too much weight, reduce the portion of food across the board, not one or two items. Pregnant or nursing mothers will need a larger portion, sometimes 2-3 times the normal diet for that individual.

    Infants can be hand-reared using Esbilac with added vitamins. A special marsupial nipple is needed. Female wallabies often put leaves in their pouch for the young to nibble upon. You might do this in your artificial pouch. People raising wallabies often make soft pouches or purchase inexpensive soft cloth purses that can be washed. These are hung in a baby playpen. Newspaper on the floor of the playpen will encourage potty training of the infant who will rarely potty in its pouch. If the baby is very young, without hair, it must be kept at 95 degrees F., approximately the mother's body temperature until it begins to regulate its own temperature. It may be necessary to rub baby oil on the bare skin to prevent drying and cracking. As the baby develops fur, you can lower the temperature. The baby will lay on its back with its head and feet pointing upwards in the pouch.

    Whenever possible, do not take the baby from the mother until it is regulating its own temperature. Then they should be kept at 80-85 degrees F. Feed every two hours until you can eliminate night feedings. The next few weeks increase feedings, and decrease number of times per day, eliminating night feedings. Offer solid foods as follows and eliminate bottle when the baby is eating solid foods dependably. Crimped or rolled oats, sweet horse feed, monkey chow, alfalfa with stems removed, chopped vegetables such as carrots or sweet potatoes and fruits, rabbit or lagomorph pellets. You may also use Purina ADF 16O because it contains vital nutrients needed by wallabies, specifically vitamin E and selenium, or put vitamins including selenium in the water.

    Wallabies can harbor nematodes (roundworms), cestodes (tapeworms), trematodes (flukes) and protozoa (Coccidia). Ivomec has been used successfully in wallabies for nematodes however, other de-wormers have not been successful. They are very sensitive to any penicillin derivative, especially taken orally! These drugs will seriously affect the natural bacteria that aid in digestion and fermentation, and are normally found in the gut of these animals. Those medications found not to be successful are combiotic, the tetracyclines and terramycins. Other medications that have been used successfully are thiabendazole, mebendazole, gentamicin, sulfadiazine, Spectinomycin and Baytril. Topical medications that have been used are neomycin, nitrofurazone, oxytetracycline for skin, eyes, ears, etc. as labeled.

    Many diseases can be caused by the infestations of parasites, so identify them and treat them accordingly. Wallabies can also contract necrobacillosis (lumpy jaw), salmonellosis, ringworm, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases.

    Some disorders can be attributed to improper nutrition such as muscular dystrophy due to Vitamin E deficiency. Selenium also plays an important role in the diet, but it must be warned that excessive Selenium can also cause problems. Watch for coccidiosis which has been treated by adding CoridO (amprolium) to their water. It is available in soluble powder and liquid. This medication is also available in crumbles that can be mixed in the dry feed. Water administration seems to be the best route of administration because you are sure that all animals are getting a similar portion. If you use crumbles, one or two dominant animals could control who ingests the medication.


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