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Wallabies

Waimates variety are known as Bennett's Wallabies or the Red Necked Wallaby.

 

In 1870 a Captain Thomson brought several wallabies from Tasmania to Christchurch.  2 females and 1 male from this stock were later brought to Te Waimate the property of Waimate's first European settler Michael Studholme.  The year 1874 saw them liberated onto the Hunters Hills where over the years their numbers have increased dramatically.  The terrain and available food were obviously to their liking!

 

Wallabies now occupy approximately 350,000 hectares of land centered on the Hunters Hills including the Two Thumb Range, The Kirkliston and Grampian Mountains. Their numbers are so large they are now considered as pests.

 

Basically a browser, the wallaby enjoys a diet of grasses such as brown top cocksfoot, blue grass, hieracum and in spring they fest on clover.  Also on their menu are small shrubs and trees.

 

It is known they scratch and dig with the forepaws to reach roots.  Unfortunately wallabies have also developed a taste for swede much to the annoyance of farmers.  They drink ocassional in drier months.

 

Being nocturnal they feed usually in the early evening.  They tend to be a solitary animal and while they can be seen in small groups, on being disturbed will each go their own way.  Rest sites are neither shared or defended. 

 

Individuals identify one another by smell but contacts are usually restricted to the breeding season.  While there seems to be a very low incidence of agonistic behaviour in the wild the captive wallaby can become vicious.  Males are sexually mature by 19-20 months, females at 14-18 months.  Following a gestation time of around 30 days the young are born usually Feb/March but as late as July.  The joey remains in the pouch for approximately 275 days emerging Nov/Dec time.

 

This marsupial the Bennett's wallaby has adapted well in its Waimate environment.  It has little disease and avoiding their only predator hunters and their dogs, they can live probably upto 15 years.

 

Average height 86cm - Average weight 15kg - they have relatively long fur, greyish brown body with pale grey chest and bell, rust colour on shoulders.

 

Animal parks have been established in Waimate where you can learn more about the Bennett wallabies.  Similarly in Victoria Park you can view wallabies in the animal enclosure.