Wallabies are marsupials and smaller members of the kangaroo family. They are often mistaken for the kangaroo itself. However as a general rule, wallabies live in dense scrub or rocky places, whereas kangaroos prefer to roam in open or lightly wooded areas. Large wallabies are classed under the genus Macropus (with one exception) and most small species of wallaby are classed under the genus Thylogale. Australia has 27 native species of wallaby, while Papua New Guinea has 5 species. New Zealand has had 6 species introduced from Australia, including the red-necked wallaby, the swamp wallaby, the parma wallaby and the brush-tailed rock wallaby.

The size of a wallaby can range anywhere from that of a rabbit to 6ft long. Its lanate fur can be brown, grey, red or sometimes so dark it appears to be black. Like the kangaroo, the females have pouches in which they carry their joeys. Wallabies are agile beings with short arms and strong legs equipped with clawed fingers and toes.

The wallaby feeds on grasses, leaves and roots. They require little water and can survive for months without drinking, which is a quality they need when living in the Australian wilderness. In fact, the Tamar wallaby can drink sea water to satisfy most of its moisture needs. They eat their food without chewing it at first, but later regurgitate a cud and digest it a second time.

Wal"la*by (?), n.; pl. Wallabies (#). [From a native name.] Zool.

Any one of numerous species of kangaroos belonging to the genus Halmaturus, native of Australia and Tasmania, especially the smaller species, as the brush kangaroo (H. Bennettii) and the pademelon (H. thetidis). The wallabies chiefly inhabit the wooded district and bushy plains.

[Written also wallabee, and whallabee.]


© Webster 1913.

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