Scientific Name: Macropus eugenii
Tammar wallabies can drink salt water.
Tammar wallabies are social macropods that reside in Australian coastal regions. They are the smallest species of wallaby and are often preyed upon by dingoes. They use their powerful hind legs to kick and defend themselves against dingos and any other predators. Like most macropods, tammar wallabies follow a social hierarchy. Males must prove their dominance to fend off rivals and impress females. To do so, they stand upright on their hind legs, puff out their chests and flex their forearms.
STATUS: Tammar wallabies are listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
HABITAT: Found along the south and west coast and coastal islands of Australia, tammar wallabies occupy vegetated coastal regions with low shrubs and woody thickets. They hide in this foliage during the daytime and emerge into more open areas at night.
DIET: Tammar wallabies are herbivorous and eat primarily grasses. Their kidneys are adapted to process and use saltwater as a source of hydration.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Tammar wallabies weigh from 10-22 pounds and are 20-27 inches long with a 12 inch long tail. They have small heads and large ears. Males are generally bigger than females, meaning the species is dimorphic. Tammar wallaby coats are grayish-brown, with slightly lighter undersides. Their legs appear reddish, especially in males. Tammar wallabies exhibit many of the characteristics of their family, Macropodidae, which literally means “large foot” (both wallabies and kangaroos are members of this family). The long, tapered tail is used as a rudder and provides balance while leaping. It can also serve as additional support when tammar wallabies are sitting or grazing. Because they are herbivores, tammar wallabies’ molars are used extensively; therefore, molars are progressively replaced over time to prevent too much wearing down.
Tammar wallabies, unlike other macropods, do not breed all year round; they follow a standardized breeding season in which embryos begin development after the summer solstice. Females are pregnant for approximately a month and then give birth to a single joey that resides in its mother’s pouch for 8-9 months. The female engages in mating behavior only a few hours after giving birth. The fertilization results in the development of a blastocyst, which then becomes dormant. It remains in this suspended state, called embryonic diapause, for up to 11 months (tammar wallabies have the longest period of embryonic diapause). When the first joey leaves the pouch, normal embryonic development resumes.