The agile wallaby's range includes the coastal and tropical areas of Australia (Environment Australia, 2001), including northeast Western Australia, the northern portion of the Northern Territory, and the north and east areas of Queensland (Nowak, 1991). Also, there are limited populations in southern New Guinea (Columbus Zoo web site, 2001).
Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )
Agile wallabies are yellowish-brown and have a white cheek stripe. Also, there is usually a fairly distinct white stripe near the hip. Average head and body length ranges between 600 and 1,050 mm; average mass for males is 20 kg. and 12 kg for females. (Nowak, 1991)
Average mass: 16 kg.
Range length: 600 to 1050 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Average mass: 16000 g.
Habitat and Ecology
Agile wallablies occur in a wide variety of habitats often depending on local environmental conditions. These habitats include open forests and their adjacent grasslands, regions near rivers and streams, and also floodplains (Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, 2001).
Habitat Regions: tropical
Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest
Agile wallabies are extremely flexible and opportunistic feeders. Their eating habits change depending on environmental conditions. During wet season, the wallabies eat a variety of native grasses, shrubs and bushes. Also, they may feed on some varieties of leaves and fruits (Stirrat, 2001). These wallabies have adapted well to extended periods of time without water. During these dry times, their feeding range usually extends and includes digging into soil for moisture-rich roots (Nowak, 1991).
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore , Frugivore , Granivore )
Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds
Life History and Behavior
Directly after birth, the young wallaby travels to the mother's pouch. The "joey" stays within the pouch for an average of seven to eight months (Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, 2001). The joey does not usually emerge permanently and reach total independance for several more weeks. Weaning occurs until the young wallaby is one year old. (Nowak, 1991)
Expected lifespan in wild ranges between 11-14 years (Nowak, 1991).
Status: wild: 11 to 14 years.
Status: wild: 11-14 years.
Status: captivity: 10.2 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Births may occur at any time of the year, but usually peak between May and August. A single young is born per breeding season. (ThinkQuest Library, 2001) The adult sex ratio of populations is often female biased, due to higher male youth mortality rates (Stirrat, 2000).
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average gestation period: 30 days.
Average weaning age: 10-12 months.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 12 to 14 months.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 12 to 14 months.
Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); delayed implantation
Average birth mass: 0.634 g.
Average gestation period: 29 days.
Average number of offspring: 1.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
In many areas, agile wallabies occur in large numbers and may even reach pest-like population levels. However, human habitat modification, extended periods of drought and over-hunting can combine for dramatic local population drops (Nowak, 1991).
US Migratory Bird Act: no special status
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
In some regions, agile wallabies occur in numbers large enough to negatively influence both natural and agricultural areas. Their extended feeding groups can create large amounts of soil erosion in wild areas, and they are often considered by farmers as pests due to their crop destruction (Environment Australia, 2001).
Negative Impacts: crop pest
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
In modern times, this species does not have any significant positive economic benefits. Previously, their meat was sometimes consumed and their fur was collected (Environment Australia, 2001).
The agile wallaby (Macropus agilis) also known as the sandy wallaby, is a species of wallaby found in northern Australia and New Guinea. It is the most common wallaby in Australia's north. The agile wallaby is a sandy colour becoming paler below. It is sometimes solitary and at other times sociable and grazes on grasses and other plants. The agile wallaby is not considered threatened.
There are four subspecies of the agile wallaby:
- M. a. agilis – the nominate subspecies is found in Northern Territory;
- M. a. jardinii – this subspecies is found on the northern and eastern coasts of Queensland;
- M. a. nigrescens – found in the Kimberley and Arnhem Land regions of Western Australia;
- M. a. papuanus – found in southern and southeastern Papua New Guinea and some neighbouring islands.
Male agile wallabies are considerably larger than females, having a head and body length of up to 85 cm (33 in) and weighing 16 to 27 kg (35 to 60 lb) while the females grow to 72 cm (28 in) in length and weigh 9 to 15 kg (20 to 33 lb). The tails of both sexes are long and flexible, giving a total length of double the head and body length. They have relatively large ears, which are edged with black, and the tip of the tail is also black. Their backs are sandy brown while their underparts are whitish. They have a dark stripe between the ears, a pale cheek stripe on each side of the face and another pale streak across the thighs.
Distribution and habitat
The agile wallaby is found in northern Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian province of Papua. It is the most common wallaby over much of the north of Australia. In northern Australia and down the eastern coast of Queensland it is quite common, and there are isolated populations in southeastern Queensland around Coomera, Jacobs Well and Hope Island. It is also present, though not common, on Stradbroke Island and on Woogoompah Island in the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, and it may still be present on Peel Island. In Australia its typical habitats are dry open woodland, heaths, dunes and grassland. It is often present in the vicinity of rivers and bilabongs. When grass is in short supply, it sometimes browses on shrubs or moves onto agricultural land, including sugar cane plantations.
In general the agile wallaby is a solitary animal, but it sometimes forms into groups when feeding on open pastures, a behaviour that may help with predator awareness. The agile wallaby feeds mainly at night on grasses, legumes and other herbaceous plants, but may also forage by day, especially in the wet season. In the dry season the animal's range grows larger as the quality of the grazing deteriorates and the diet expands to include flowers, fruit, twigs, fallen leaves, roots and bark. In the dry season in Boodjamulla National Park in Queensland, when food is in short supply, it has been observed pulling up seedling Livistona palms with its teeth, eating the roots and stems and discarding the leaves. When they are available, it eats the fruits of these palms, but in the dry season it also crushes and eats the hard seeds. It also consumes other seeds that have passed through the guts of fruit-eating birds. It sometimes digs holes in dry creeks and bilabongs to search for water, and this is thought to help it avoid being killed by the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) that can be found beside rivers.
Breeding takes place at any time of year, with the female becoming receptive soon after giving birth. Male behaviour includes "play-fighting", leaping into the air and sinuously lashing the tail. After a brief courtship, mating takes place after which there is an embryonic diapause in which the embryo remains in a state of dormancy before implanting. The gestation period is about thirty days after which the young wallaby is born and makes its way to its mother's pouch. It remains there for seven to eight months and is weaned at about eleven months.
The agile wallaby has a wide range and is common over much of that range. It faces no major threats, however in New Guinea it is shot for bushmeat and in Australia it is sometimes killed by farmers as a pest. It is present in a number of protected areas in Australia but this is not the case in New Guinea. Overall, the population is thought to be declining, but the total population is large and the rate of decline is slow so the IUCN considers this wallaby to be of "least concern".
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 63. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- Aplin, K., Dickman, C., Salas, L., Woinarski, J. & Winter, J. (2008). Macropus agilis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 28 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
- Merchant, J.C. (1983). Agile Wallaby in The Complete Book of Australian Mammals (ed. Ronald Strahan). Angus & Robertson. p. 242.
- Richardson, Ken (2012). Australia's Amazing Kangaroos: Their Conservation, Unique Biology and Coexistence with Humans. Csiro Publishing. pp. 60–61. ISBN 978-0-643-10715-1.
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- Menkhorst, Peter (2001). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia. Oxford University Press. p. 110.
- "Agile wallaby". Queensland Museum. Retrieved 2014-08-01.