Brush-tailed rock-wallabies occur in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. They were once considered fairly common. However, in recent years they have experienced a dramatic reduction in range and abundance, particularly in Victoria and southern and western NSW. They are currently listed as an endangered species under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.
Foxes are believed to be the most common reason for the brush-tailed rock-wallaby's decline. Foxes were introduced to Australia in the 1870s and have contributed to the decline of a range of native species. Foxes are agile climbers and are well-sized to fit into the crevices where young wallabies shelter while their mothers feed.
However, rock-wallabies face a number of other threats. These include:
- being preyed on by dogs and cats
- competition with goats and rabbits for habitat and food
- habitat degradation by human disturbance, clearing, weed invasion, fire and drought
- diseases such as toxoplasmosis, which is spread by cats
What do they look like?
Adult brush-tailed rock-wallabies weigh between five and eight kilograms. They are brown with a reddish rump, grey shoulders and a long brush-tipped tail. They have a light cheek stripe and a black stripe that runs from their forehead, between their ears, to the back of their head. They are sometimes confused with the larger, more common swamp wallaby.
Where are they found?
Brush-tailed rock-wallabies live in highly rocky terrain such as escarpments, boulder piles and rocky pinnacles. They generally prefer sites that are north-facing and contain numerous ledges and crevices.
These wallabies can be quite difficult to see in the wild as they are well camouflaged and quite timid by nature. They can sometimes be seen basking in the late afternoon and early morning sun. They are chiefly active at dawn and dusk, moving out of their rocky refuges into more open areas to feed.
The presence of their distinctive scats around highly rocky habitat is often the best sign of their presence. Brush-tailed rock-wallaby scats can be found throughout their rocky habitat, particularly on ledges and boulder piles where they sit to sun themselves.
Their scats can be recognised from other animals' scats by their proximity to rocky habitat and their distinctive size and shape. They are usually a cylindrical shape with a pinch at one end.
What can you do to help?
Property owners can:
- act to control foxes, goats, rabbits and wild dogs on their property
- ensure pet dogs and cats do not roam in rock-wallaby habitat
- protect rock-wallaby habitat by retaining native vegetation, undertaking weed control and keeping grazing stock out
- get involved in habitat protection and restoration projects.
- minimise disturbance to rock-wallabies when moving through their habitat. Don't chase animals or crawl into refuge sites.
- keep rock-wallaby habitat free of refuse by removing all litter and food scraps.
- collect scats for identification by experts. Handle these carefully, and be sure to record both the location of the site and the location of the scats within the site
- fill in a species sighting form (see below) if they see brush-tailed rock-wallabies.
Tell us about your brush-tailed rock-wallaby sightings
The current distribution of brush-tailed rock-wallabies is uncertain. The Department needs to know more about where brush-tailed rock-wallabies are still living, so we can protect this endangered species.
If you see any evidence of brush-tailed rock-wallabies, please fill in an online species sighting form.