Yellow-Footed Rock Wallaby
Scientific Name: Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus
Yellow-footed rock wallabies can jump up to 12 feet across rocks, but move awkwardly on flat surfaces.
These medium-sized, nocturnal wallabies rest in caves and rock crevices during the day, occasionally emerging to sunbathe. They live in social groups where mating occurs rapidly, so females are often pregnant the entire period that they are sexually mature.
STATUS: Yellow-footed rock wallabies are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as they live in a limited habitat range that continues to decrease in size.
HABITAT: Yellow-footed rock wallabies inhabit rocky cliffs and outcrops in the Australian states of South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.
DIET: As herbivores, yellow-footed rock wallabies primarily consume grasses, roots and bark.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: The coloring of yellow-footed rock wallabies distinguishes them from other wallabies. Their fur is brownish-gray that appears darker on their heads and upper bodies and becomes progressively lighter down the back. A signature dark stripe begins at the ears and runs to the mid-back; brown and yellowish patches branch from this dark brown streak. A white stripe crosses both cheeks, the back of the ears are yellow and their tails are patterned with dark brown and yellow rings. Yellow feet, of course, also characterize these wallabies. Yellow-footed rock wallabies measure 19-32 inches long, plus a 16-28 inch tail, and they weigh 5-20 pounds.
Living among rocky cliffs, yellow-footed rock wallabies have developed many adaptations to survive in this challenging environment. Their slender tails offer balance as they leap and dart along rocks. Many wallaby species also utilize their tails as additional support when sitting; however, yellow-footed rock wallabies use their tails solely for balance. Because their tails do not function as props, they lack the strong base and significant tapering that other wallabies’ tails exhibit.
The soles of the hind feet of yellow-footed rock wallabies are built to increase traction. The pads are rough and surrounded by coarse hair. The rocky cliffs often treaded on by the wallabies appear smooth and glossy due to the grinding to the wallabies’ feet on the surfaces.
Limited water sources offer another challenge to yellow-footed rock wallabies. Unlike some wallaby species that can process saltwater, yellow-footed rock wallabies rely on their ability to consume over ten percent of their body weight in minutes. This allows them to accumulate a lot of water during the rainy season.