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With a characteristic long and bushy rufous-brown tail and thick body fur, the brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) is native to the rocky terrains of Australia. Once common throughout most of south-eastern Australia, populations of this wallaby species are now restricted to northern parts of New South Wales and areas of southern Queensland due to large-scale habitat loss arising from natural and anthropological causes.
Like all other wallaby and kangaroo species, the brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) belongs to the marsupial family Macropodidae. These highly agile animals can conveniently move through rocky and rugged regions because of their well-padded feet, with their long and bushy tail providing flexibility and balance. Like kangaroos, these wallabies carry their young in a pouch on the front of the body and are efficient hoppers and climbers. Unfortunately, predation by the red fox, an introduced species to Australia, is one of the major threats that has doomed the Petrogale penicillata, reducing their population to small and fragmented colonies.
The brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) is one of the several species of rock wallabies native to Australia and belonging to the family Macropodidae.
Brush-tailed rock-wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) belong to the class of mammals.
In accordance with the data provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, there are around 20,000 mature individuals of brush-tailed rock-wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) left in the world.
Brush-tailed rock-wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) live in rocky outcrops, escarpments, cliffs, boulder piles, steep rocky slopes, and gorges in open woodlands and dry sclerophyll forests.
Endemic to Australia, the brush-tailed rock-wallaby habitat is primarily concentrated in the eastern part of the continent. The distribution range extends from western Victoria to southern Queensland, along the Great Dividing Range. Even though this species was quite common in northern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland, there has been a rapid decline in population in the western and southern parts of their range, with only fragmented populations remaining in this region. In New South Wales, the range extends from the Queensland border in the north to Shoalhaven in the south.
These Australian rock-wallabies prefer a rocky habitat with numerous caves, crevices, ledges, and fissures, often facing the north. During the day, thses wallabies bask in the sun or take shelter in the caves and crevices, and it is only during the night that these animals are actively foraging.
Australian brush-tailed rock-wallabies are quite the social creatures. These mammals of Australia live in small colonies that show a strict hierarchical structure. There is usually a dominant male, several females, and their young ones. Moreover, these animals show a strong preference and attachment to a specifically designated habitat and home range. The females of this species are often found living with other female relatives and engage in grooming activities. Even though the home ranges of these animals overlap, individuals have exclusive den locations.
No information is available regarding the lifespan of these wallabies in their wild habitat. However, individuals of a captive population can live for over 11 years.
Since these animals have a year-long breeding season, female brush-tailed rock-wallabies can give birth throughout the year. At higher altitudes, breeding may peak between February and May. Females reach reproductive maturity at 18 months, while the males do so when they are about 20 months old. The average gestation period for this Australian animal is around 31 days, following which a litter comprising only one young wallaby is born. The newborn attaches to the pouch on the females and usually remains there for 29 weeks, followed by a suckling period of around three months. The males usually disperse from the family group once they have attained maturity.
According to a 2014 assessment, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies brush-tailed rock-wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) as a Vulnerable species with a decreasing population trend.
Brush-tailed rock-wallabies have a dense and disheveled, predominantly grayish-brown or rufous-brown fur coat. The tail is longer than the combined length of the head and body and becomes prominently bushy or brush-like towards the tip, giving the animal its common name. The color of the tail is brown or black. The fur at the rump and the thighs are brown, while the fur on the shoulders and over the back is either entirely gray-brown or rufous-brown. The chest area is comparatively paler. The fur is particularly long and thick on the flanks, the rump, and at the base region of the tail. The paws, feet, lower parts of the limbs, and the area on the sides beneath the forelimbs are covered with very dark fur.
Brush-tailed wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) are incredibly cute and adorable animals like tree kangaroos.
While wallabies do not really make a lot of noise, their vocalization mainly includes grunting or making a hissing cough sound. Nose jabbing, where one animal bumps its nose into another animal, and intense staring are other forms of communication observed among members of this species. Moreover, one animal biting and licking the fur of another, known as allogrooming, appears to be a way to establish status and domination.
The males of this species have an average head and body length of about 21.9 in (55.7 cm). The females are slightly smaller than the males, with an average head and body length of 21.1 in (53.6 cm). In males, the average tail length is about 24 in (61.1 cm), and in females, the tail can be as long as 22.2 in (56.3 cm). Brush-tailed rock-wallabies will be slightly smaller in size than the yellow-footed rock-wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus).
Wallabies do not really run. Instead, they jump and bound.
While the males weigh about 17.6 lb (8 kg), the females are smaller and weigh around 13.2 lb (6 kg). Red kangaroos are way bulkier than them.
Adult male wallabies are known by several names such as jack, boomer, and buck. Similarly, an adult female wallaby may be called a jill, flyer, or doe.
Like their kangaroo cousins, a baby brush-tailed rock-wallaby is called a joey.
Brush-tailed rock-wallaby food consists of grasses, leaves, roots, ferns, sedges, fruits, flowers, barks, and seeds. However, a major part of their diet comprises grass, and they choose to forage in areas that are abundant in short green grass, shrubs, or forbs.
Wallabies are not known to be dangerous to humans unless injured or sick. However, these animals are highly territorial about their designated habitat and may exhibit aggressive behavior towards their own kind to reinforce status and dominance.
Wallabies are exotic pets. Even though they are high-maintenance pets, wallabies make great pets when given proper care. However, given the Vulnerable status of brush-tailed rock-wallabies, they are best left in their wild habitat.
Petrogale penicillata was first described in 1827 by John Edward Gray.
The genus Petrogale to which brush-tailed rock-wallabies belong has three species groups. These are Petrogale brachyotis, Petrogale xanthopus, and Petrogale lateralis/penicillata.
Petrogale penicillata was introduced to New Zealand in the 1870s and in Hawaii in 1916.
Brush-tailed rock-wallabies have average home ranges of about 37 acres (15 ha).
Even though brush-tailed rock-wallabies are not endangered, they have a Vulnerable status in the IUCN Red List with a decreasing population trend. One of the primary reasons for the dwindling population of these Australian mammals is predation by the red fox (Vulpes vulpes). Further, bushfires that swept through Victoria and New South Wales are estimated to have destroyed 70% of the protected areas that wallabies inhabit. As a result, the remaining populations in western New South Wales and Victoria are endangered.
There are 19 species of rock-wallabies, the names of 17 of which are available. These include the Mount Claro rock-wallaby, purple-necked rock-wallaby, brush-tailed rock wallaby, Mareeba rock-wallaby, black-flanked rock-wallaby, unadorned rock-wallaby, Herbert's rock-wallaby, Godman's rock-wallaby, Cape York rock-wallaby, allied rock-wallaby, yellow-footed rock-wallaby, Rothschild's rock-wallaby, Proserpine rock-wallaby, eastern short-eared rock-wallaby, Nabarlek, Monjon, and short-eared rock-wallaby.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these chihuahua terrier mix facts and dunker facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable brush tailed rock wallaby coloring pages.
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