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( Macropus Rufogriseus )

Order Marsupialia The order Marsupialia includes wallabies, kangaroos, koala, wombats, opossums and the Tasmanian Devil. Today this group of mammals if found only in the New World and in the Australian region. The most striking difference between marsupials and other mammals is their method of reproduction. Most mammals develop and grow a great deal in the mother’s uterus before birth, but marsupials are born very early in their development. They are blind, hairless and very tiny, but their heads and forelimbs are well-developed. They crawl through the fur on the mother’s belly until they find a teat. Usually the teat is inside a pouch on her abdomen. The youngster sucks the nipple into its mouth, where it swells up, preventing the youngster from letting go until it has grown and developed its jaws enough to open its mouth wide. Thus, marsupials do most of their growing and developing outside the mother’s body, attached to a teat on her belly. The wallabies and kangaroos make up the family Macropodidae. These animals have a sacculated stomach containing microorganisms that ferment cellulose and break it down. This system works in much the same way as the chambered stomach of a cow or other ruminant. Macropods are characterised by short forelimbs, long hindlimbs adapted to hopping, and a long tail which is used as a balance during hopping and a prop while resting.

MORPHOLOGY: The Red-necked Wallaby is a grey-brown animal with a reddish tinge on the shoulders. Males are larger than females. Red-necked Wallabies may grow to 150.2 cm (41") in length, not counting the tail, which may be 75 cm (29") long. They may weigh up to 27.3 kg (60 lbs.).

RANGE: Eastern Australia, including Tasmania.

HABITAT: Open forests, tall heath communities and cleared areas.

DIET: Grasses and herbs.

LIFESPAN: Red-necked Wallabies live to about eighteen years in the wild.

BEHAVIOUR: This species is a solitary one, but they may congregate at local food supplies, giving the impression that they associate in groups. The Red-necked Wallaby is usually active from the late afternoon to dawn, grazing on plants. During the morning and the heat of the day they rest in dense shrubbery. On dull or wet days they may emerge from their nesting place earlier, to forage. Red-necked Wallabies have poor eyesight but acute hearing.

BREEDING: There are two subspecies of Red-necked Wallaby; one if found on the mainland of Australia, while the other inhabits Tasmania and the Bass Strait Islands. The Red-necked Wallaby is unique among the Macropods in that these two subspecies display different breeding patterns. On the mainland the Red-necked Wallaby breeds throughout the year, with a slight increase in breeding during the summer. In Tasmania this species has a well-defined breeding season and births occur in late January to July. In both subspecies the young develop in the female’s uterus for about thirty days and it is then born. At this stage it is only 5 cm (2") long and weighs about 14 g (0.5 oz.). It crawls into the mother’s pouch and remains there for about 280 days, growing and developing. During this time the youngster (called a "joey") starts eating plants by sticking its head out of the pouch and grazing while its mother leans over to forage. The joey then leaves the pouch, but will suckle until it is about seventeen months old. The female often breeds right after she gives birth to a youngster, but the embryo in her uterus may go through a period of arrested development lasting several months. Even so, it is not uncommon for a female to have an embryo developing in her uterus, a joey in the pouch and another joey that has left the pouch but is still nursing. The female can supply two kinds of milk at a time, one type for the young joey in the pouch and another, higher in fat content, for the joey that has left the pouch. Just how the female does this is not known.

Common Name: Red-Necked Wallaby (Or Bennett’s Wallaby)

Scientific Name: Macropus Rufogriseus

Family: Macropodidae

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