Although Petrogale lateralis is often reffered to as the "West Australian Rock Wallaby", its distribution is clearly not confined to this region. P. lateralis populations can be found in northern South Australia, the southern parts of the Northern Territory, as well as Western Australia. (Pearson 1992; Strahan 1995)
Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )
Like all rock wallabies,P lateralis has thick and padded hind feet with granulated soles that provide traction on rocky terrain. Also, unlike other macropods, in the rock wallaby the claw of the fourth toe extends barely (if at all) past the large toe pad. Petrogale lateralis has a thick and soft grey-brown coat. Its face is dark and grey with a light stripe on the cheek. The various sub-species of P. lateralis differ in body markings and size. In most sub-species, females are70-85% the weight of males the same age. (Strahan 1995; Jones 1923; Taylor 1984)
Range mass: 3.1 to 7 kg.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Habitat and Ecology
Members of this species, like other rock wallabies, live on rock piles, cliffs, and rocky hills. Their highly specialized feet allow them to move swiftly and safely on steep rocky terrain. They camp near caves or cliffs where they can take shelter, and they are often found in very arid areas where water is scarce. (Strahan 1995; Pearson 1992; Taylor 1995)
Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland
Petrogale lateralis feeds mainly on grass and herbs. The large forestomach of macropods is well suited for the microbial fermentation of cellulose. Petrogale lateralis does not need to drink much water to survive and sometimes lives in areas where no permanent water source is available. These wallabies seek shelter in caves during the hottest hours of the days to minimize their loss of water. They are most active during early evening when they leave their shelter to feed on plants. (Strahan 1995; Taylor 1984)
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Very little information is available for P. lateralis; the following account is based primarily on other wallaby species. All rock-wallaby species breed continually. The gestation period and oestrus cycle of Petrogalespecies, are both about 30 days. As with other marsupials, the new born rock wallabies are very undeveloped and suckle inside their mother's pouch. Unlike other kangaroos and wallabies, young rock wallabies that have left the pouch but are not yet weaned are often left in a sheltered area while their mother goes off to feed. This may be because of the treacherous terrain in which the rock wallabies live.
(Strahan 1995; Taylor 1984)
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Average number of offspring: 1.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Petrogale lateralis
No available public DNA sequences.
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Petrogale lateralis
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
- 1994Vulnerable (V)
The number and size of P. lateralis populations has never been accurately determined, but it is now believed that their distribution is diminishing. Reports written by past explorers and Aboriginals have suggested that large groups of P. lateralis once existed in several regions where none are currently observed. There has been some speculation that their decline has been caused by competition from other herbivores, changes in fire patterns since aboriginals have left certain areas, or increased predation by introduced predators such as the fox. (Pearson 1992; Strahan 1995)
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
The remaining subspecies of Black-footed Rock Wallaby have not fared so well or are very limited in distribution. The Black-footed Rock Wallaby in south-western Western Australia have declined massively during the 20th century, and many local populations have gone extinct (Pearson and Kinnear 1997; Eldridge and Pearson 2008). Barrow Island may hold about 100 individuals, though recent work suggests this population is much smaller (A. Burbidge pers. comm.). Both P. l. hacketti and P. l. pearsoni are common within their tiny ranges. Estimates for P. l. pearsoni include approximately 500 individuals on Thistle Island and 200 on Wedge Island (both are introduced populations).
A number of reintroductions of have been carried out to date and management of the relevant threatening processes described above is particularly important when establishing new populations (Davies et al. 2007). P. l. pearsoni was endemic to North Pearson Island, but in 1960 it was accidentally introduced to South and Middle Pearson, where populations are now established (Eldridge and Pearson 2008). In 1974 this subspecies was translocated to Thistle Island and in 1975 to Wedge Island (Eldridge and Pearson 2008). P. l. lateralis has been reintroduced to Avon Valley National Park (2001), Paruna Sanctuary (2001), Walyunga National Park (2002), and Cape Le Grand National Park (2003) (Davies et al. 2007). Further reintroductions/ translocations are planned and these should proceed along with the maintenance of genetic variation within captive-breeding populations.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
This species lives primarily in remote areas and has little effect on the lives of most people in Australia. They were used as a food source by early explorers and Aboriginals, but today P. lateralis are not widely hunted. (Pearson 1992)
The black-flanked rock-wallaby is a rather wary animal, with black and grey colouration to blend in with its rocky surroundings, later to lighten in colour during summer. It has short, thick, woolly fur that is particularly dense around the base of the tail, rump and flanks. Its long, brushy tail is quite useful for retaining balance as they hop from one rock to another, and the soles of its feet are highly textured to prevent slipping.
This wallaby lives in groups of 10–100 individuals. It usually feeds at night in open areas such as grasses, where it can also find fruit, leaves and a variety of herbs. Because most of its water comes from its diet, it rarely drinks and can conserve water by taking refuge from the heat in rocky caves. It is most active when it leaves its shelter at early-evening. Individuals reach sexual maturity at 1–2 years of age, after which time breeding is continuous, depending on rainfall. Females show embryonic diapause; the development of the embryo can cease temporarily until environmental conditions become more suitable for its development to complete. The gestation period lasts around 30 days, and like other young marsupials, the young are poorly developed and suckle inside the mother's pouch until they are ready to leave. Unlike other kangaroos and wallabies, mothers leave their young in a sheltered place while they feed.
Predation by introduced foxes and feral cats, habitat damage caused by sheep, goats and rabbits and alteration of fire regimes have caused the population to decline. Several sites where populations occur are protected, and a recovery plan is underway. Fox control has been established at several sites.
- Recherche rock-wallaby Petrogale lateralis hacketti
- Pearson Island rock-wallaby Petrogale lateralis pearsoni
A description published as Petrogale lateralis purpureicollis (purple-necked rock-wallaby) by Le Souef in 1924 is given in some listings, but this is now regarded as a distinct species. The specimens obtained at the MacDonnell Ranges, and from the Western Kimberley, are also distinct enough to be separate subspecies of the black-flanked rock-wallaby. These populations, and the recognised subspecies, are distinguished by chromosomal as well as morphological distinctions.
The Australian Commonwealth Government's Department of Environment and Water Resources lists the black-flanked rock-wallaby as having 'Vulnerable' status and cites various habitats in Western Australia. The subspecies found at the Recherche Archipelago was assessed as a vulnerable species in 2006.
In South Australia, the Adelaide Advertiser reported on Monday October 1, 2007 that:
The race is on to save the black-flanked rock-wallaby from extinction and captive breeding programs at Monarto Zoo and Adelaide Zoo are showing early promise.
The State Government claims there are just 50 animals left in the wild in South Australia  and the Advertiser article described the process of moving 15 wallabies to captivity in South Australia, with known native locations to be at Pukatja / Ernabella in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara or 'APY' Lands and also at New Well, some 300 km east of Adelaide.
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- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 68. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3.
- Burbidge, A., Woinarski, J., Reed, J., van Weenen, J., Moseby, C. & Morris, K. (2008). Petrogale lateralis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 29 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as near threatened
- Vulnerable animals list at www.epa.qld.gov
- Elbridge, M. D. B., & Close, R. L. (1995). Strahan, R. ed. Mammals of Australia. Reed Books. pp. 377-381. ISBN 1-56098-673-5.
- Mammals of Australia, Vol. II Plate 42, London, 1863
- Dept Environment & Water Resources Website Retrieved on October 2, 2007
- Australasian Marsupial & Monotreme Specialist Group (1996). Petrogale lateralis ssp. hacketti. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 2008-03-22.
- SA Government Ministers Press Releases Minister Gago, May 17, 2007 Retrieved on October 2, 2007
- Adelaide Advertiser, Monday, October 1, 2007, page 16