Black Wallaroos are found in limited areas on the sandstone escarpment and plateau of the western edge of Arnhem Land, a region of northern Australia located to the west of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )
The Black Wallaroo is one of the smallest species in the kangaroo family. They are roughly two thirds the size of northern wallaroos. They range from .8 meters tall in females, up to about 1 meter tall in males. The name comes from the color of the males, which are a sooty brown to glossy black, while females are a dark brown to grey color. The ears are shorter than nothern wallaroos. Unlike kangaroos where the muzzle is covered with hair, the black wallaroo's nose is completely naked.
Range mass: 13 to 22 kg.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Habitat and Ecology
These animals usually occur in a wide range of vegetation types varying from closed forests to open Eucalyptus forests to hummock grasslands and heaths. In most cases, they are found in areas that have large boulders in the landscape.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical
Terrestrial Biomes: forest
Black Wallaroos are grazers, who spend between 7 and 14 hours a day feeding, depending on the season. They are most active at dawn and dusk, but relatively inactive during the middle of both the day and night when they are resting. They eat mostly grasses and shrubs but will occasionally eat other plants.
Plant Foods: leaves
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )
The Black Wallaroo uses camoflauge to hide from predators. They are also rather quick, and they rely on speed to escape predators.
Predators include eagles, which take the young, dingos, foxes, crocodiles, and humans.
- dingos (Canis lupus dingo)
- red foxes (Vulpes vulpes)
- eagles (Accipitridae)
- crocodiles (Crocodylidae)
- humans (Homo sapiens)
Canis lupus dingo
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: captivity: 11.8 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
The Black Wallaroo, similar to other wallaroos, breed continously throughout the year under good conditions. Females often increase their area of activity in order to attract the largest most dominant male in that area. Reproduction often depends on lactation to nourish the underdeveloped young, which depends on the availability of food resources.
The female gestates between 31 and 36 days, and once born, the young, which are only a few centimeters in length, find their way to the mother's pouch and attach themselves to a nipple. A young is attached to the nipple until approximately 4 months of age, during which time the mother may be carrying another embryo in the uterus in an "embryonic diapause" or halted state of development. After the young detach themselves from the nipple, they continue to live in the pouch, but the mother is able to give birth to the other baby, which has resumed uterine development. The female wallaroo is then able to support two different aged joeys in the pouch simultaneously.
Breeding season: All year
Range gestation period: 31 to 36 days.
Average weaning age: 6 months.
Key Reproductive Features: year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); viviparous ; delayed implantation
The young emerge from the pouch after about 6 months. The mother can control the opening of the pouch with muscles to either keep the joey inside when the mother is alarmed or to get the joey to exit the pouch. Even after the joey is not living in the pouch anymore, it returns to the pouch to suckle for many months.
Parental Investment: altricial ; female parental care
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/near threatened (LR/nt)
The Black Wallaroo occurs naturally in a very small area, so it is important to protect this area. A large part of their habitat is located in the Kakadu National Park in Australia, which is already protected. The largest threat to the survival of the species is the change of fire patterns in their home range, which has altered the flora composition in the area where they live. Little is known about the abundance or population of this species, however, which makes it hard to determine if they are threatened by this change of fire patterns.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
There are not many positive benefits to humans mainly because these animals live in such a small area of Australia. They do not intrude on farm land, and do not disturb crops. They are the only type of kangaroo which is not good to eat; the meat has a rank and unpleasant smell and taste.
The black wallaroo (Macropus bernardus), Bernard's wallaroo or Woodward's wallaroo, is a species of macropod restricted to a small, mountainous area in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, between South Alligator River and Nabarlek. It classified as near threatened, mostly due to its limited distribution. A large proportion of the range is protected by Kakadu National Park.
The black wallaroo is by far the smallest of the wallaroos as well as the most distinctive. It is sexually dimorphic, with the male being completely black or dark brown and the female a mid-grey colour. It is little known but is known to be a shy nocturnal grazer which does not gather in groups. It makes great use of the rocky escarpments where it lives to shelter and escape danger.
- Woinarski, J. (2008). Macropus bernardus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 28 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as near threatened
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 64. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- Menkhorst, Peter (2001). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia. Oxford University Press. p. 118.