Scientific Name: Petrogale xanthopus
The skin on a yellow-footed rock-wallaby’s feet is thick and rough, so that it can grip onto steep surfaces and not slip. This proves invaluable when it is hopping between boulders and crevices.
The largest of the wallabies, the yellow-footed rock wallaby also has the most colourful markings. Its tail is ringed brown and yellow, its paws are yellow and its back is covered in soft grey fur. Its underbelly is white and there are white stripes on the flanks, hips and cheeks. Unfortunately, the beautiful markings also led to large numbers of wallabies being killed in the 1800s and early 1900s for their pelts. These days the main threats are fox and feral cat predation, loss of habitat and competition for food and water sources from feral animals, particularly goats, which are able to survive in the same habitat. Yellow-footed rock-wallabies live in colonies of up to 100 and when a threat approaches, a wallaby will thump its feet to warn the others.
Yellow-footed rock-wallabies live in semi-arid areas in rocky outcrops and ranges. Once common in arid mountain areas, today the species is only found in seven small pockets of land in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. In NSW they are listed as endangered and SA as vulnerable.
Due to the arid environment they live in, food choices are limited, and these rock-wallabies feed on grasses, shrubs, bark and fallen leaves. As daytime temperatures often hit 40 Celsius, the wallaby is mainly nocturnal, sheltering in caves and overhangs during the day and feeding at dusk. They can go for long periods without water but when it’s hot will travel many kilometres to drink.
Female yellow-footed rock–wallabies are able to breed from 11-22 months of age and males at 30 months. After a month-long pregnancy, a single tiny joey is born. It attaches itself to one of the mother’s four pouch teats and stays there for 28 weeks suckling. After leaving the pouch, the joey does not follow the mother around like kangaroos do, but stays in a safe place in the rocks while the mum forages for food.