Species profile

Bridled Nailtail Wallaby

Bridled Nailtail Wallaby

Range and abundance

The Bridled Nailtail Wallaby was historically found throughout the semi-arid inland of Australia, from the Murray River in north western Victoria to Charters Towers in Queensland. Populations could be found on the slopes and plains west of the Great Dividing Range, where tall shrublands and grassy woodlands were favoured.

From 1937 to 1973 the species was thought to be extinct, when it was rediscovered near Dingo in Queensland. The wild population is now restricted to Taunton National Park in Queensland, with reintroduced populations persisting in Idalia National Park (western Queensland) and Avocet Nature Refuge, near Emerald (central Queensland). AWC protects the largest population of Bridled Nailtail Wallabies in the country at Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary.

Description

The Bridled Nailtail Wallaby is a medium sized wallaby exhibiting strong sexual dimorphism, with males reaching up to 8kg and females 6kg. They are easily identifiable by a white ‘bridle’ line which runs from the back of the neck down behind each of the forearms. Their fur is soft and greyish in colouration, becoming darker towards the tip of the tail.

Ecology

This species is largely nocturnal, however can be seen emerging from the shelter of woodland to feed in open grassy areas an hour or so before dusk. During cooler months they may also be observed basking in the afternoon sunlight. Days are spent sheltering in hollowed logs or beneath bushes where a shallow depression or ‘scrape’ may be excavated.

Individuals are usually solitary in nature, however feeding groups of 5 or more animals may occur. Their diet consists predominantly of mixed forbs, grass and browse, with chenopod species and soft grasses (such as species of Chloris, Sporobolus, and Bothriochloa)being favoured. These plants offer enough moisture that surface water need only be consumed during drier periods.

Breeding is opportunistic and continual (given sufficient resources), however young are more frequently observed through the spring and summer months. Up to 3 young a year may be reared.

Threats

Over the last 20 years, the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby population on National Parks has declined almost to extinction, while the population on AWC land has increased to more than 2,500 animals. Reasons attributed to the decline of this species include competition for resources with domestic stock (particularly sheep), altered habitat and predation by exotic predators, notably the Fox (Vulpes vulpes) and Cat (Felis catus). Large numbers were killed by pastoralists in the early 20th Century, and were hunted for their pelts.


What is AWC doing?

AWC  protects over 90% of the entire Bridled Nailtail Wallaby population. Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary currently supports the largest population of Bridled Nailtail Wallabies in the country.  This population comprises of two groups established in feral predator free areas (each around 4,000ha in size). Both populations continue to expand on the sanctuary with natural breeding and recruitment indicating successful reintroductions. 

Did you know:

A crest of hair at the tip of the wallaby’s tail partially conceals a claw-like nail. It is this nail which leads to the name ‘nailtail’ wallaby, however little is known of its purpose. There were once three species of nailtail wallabies, one (the Crescent Nailtail Wallaby Onychogalea lunata) is now extinct.