The Australian Reptile Park newest resident is making its zoo keepers giddy with adorable delight! Belle is a 6 month yellow footed rock wallaby and is just starting to poke her cute little head out of mum Becky’s pouch to say hi to visitors! It is doubly exciting as she is another success story in the Park’s breeding program for the endangered species.
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!
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, this is the stage which Belle is at. Eventually she will leave the pouch and when she does, she not follow Becky around like kangaroos do, but she’ll stay in a secluded place in the rocks while mum forages for food.
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.