Bridled Nailtail Wallaby
The name explains this Australian species Bridled = lighter colouring around its neck and down the side of its upper body, that looks like a "bridle" Nailtail = they have a horny spur on the end of their tails Wallaby = a smaller member of the macropod family, like a small Kangaroo
There are/ were 3 types of Nailtail Wallabies Crescent Nailtail Wallaby:Onychogalea lunata (extinct) Northern Nailtail Wallaby:Onychogalea unguifera fairly common in northern reaches of Australia Bridled Nailtail Wallaby:Onychogalea fraenata sometimes called "Flashjack"," Waistcoat Wallaby","Bridled Wallaby"
As already mentioned the most distinguishing feature of the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby is the white 'bridle' line running from the back of the neck, down its body behind its smaller forearms,
which stands out from its general grey coloured fur.
The other distinguishing feature is the horny spur on the end of their tails usually 3 to 6 mm long) which is partly covered by hair so is often not easily visible. The use of this horny spur is not understood.
Other markings include a black "dorsal stripe" along their back , and stripes on their cheeks, which are also found on other species of wallabies.
They can grow to a body length of 1 meter (1/2 body length, 1/2 tail length), and weigh around 4 to 7 Kg.
Females are smaller than the males and they are very quick smooth movers.
LOCATION & HABITAT
Today the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby is officially only found on one reserve near Dingo in central Queensland (see map)
This area has open grassy Eucalypt forest edging onto shrubland, which in this case is brigalow scrub.
They are thought to have preferred Acacia scrubland boarding woodlands in semi-arid regions when more populated.
The climate near Dingo can be described as "warm temperate"
The Bridled Nailtail Wallaby is basically nocturnal, moving around and feeding at dusk and during the night.
During the day they prefer to sleep and rest in a scraped out hollow beside bushes or trees.
It keeps close to the scrub edges of pasture grasses, only venturing further from the open woodland and/or scrublands when grasses are less plentiful as in droughts etc
Basically they are a shy solitary animal, but occasionally a small group up to four can be seen feeding together when good grazing is in short supply
The Bridled Nailtail Wallaby likes to avoid confrontation and has 2 main ways of avoiding potential threats
One is to hide in a hollow log or crawling under a low shrub. But if caught in the open grassland, it may try to lie prone and not move a muscle hoping not to be observed
The Bridled Nailtail Wallaby is a grazier on various species of grass, flowering plants, herbs and shoots.
They use their clawed forefeet to move aside dried dead material (eg Tussock grass) to expose green feed roots etc.
It is thought that they do not need to drink, obtaining moisture from its food.
Being a marsupial young wallabies are brought up in their mothers pouch.
1 young is born at a time and depending on suitable conditions of food sources, as to how often they breed.
They have a gestation period of around 23 odd days
and the joey (young wallaby) stays in the pouch for approximately 4 months
HISTORY and DECLINE
In the mid 19th century 1840-1860 the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby ranged right through New South Wales (and just into Victoria) and well into Queensland in the semi-arid inland, west of the Great Dividing Range.
This area had a mixture of grassy woodland, shrubland and grazing grasslands, that this wallaby prefers.
The last report of them in NSW was in the Northeast in 1924, and since no reports since the 1930's of them in Queensland, it was presumed extinct in the late 1960's
"Rediscovery" occurred in 1973 near Dingo and today that is where they are found in and around the Taunton National Park.
The main reasons for decline are not the normal human intervention ones of deforestation (clearing for timber products) or introducing species that become predators.
It seems the competition of the pastoral industry (ie grazing of large herds of sheep) has been the main contributing factor to decline.
This removal of scrubland for more pastoral land, and the competition for grass has definitely shrunk the possible habitats of this wallaby
Other contributing factors are:-
Shooting for fur
Rabbits competing for feed
Dingos, foxes and feral cats being predators
A small group of Bridled Nailtail Wallabies have been established at the Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo NSW to establish a backup colony and to develop a captive breeding and genetic management program