Fact sheet banner
Information Species Best place Identification Habitat Foraging Reproduction Sociality Readings
Black-striped wallaby
Gould's painting of the Black-striped Wallaby emphasises the several distinctive facets in the fur. (Image: Gould's 'The Mammals of Australia'.
Black-striped Wallaby
The Black-striped Wallaby in life is not as richly red as illustrated by Gould but the transition from reddish forequarters to a grey rear is clear.
Idalia National Park
Mulga grove in Idalia National Park. (Image: Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service)
Geographic distribution of Black-striped Wallaby
Geographic distribution of the Black-striped Wallaby represented by coverage of 1:250,000 map sheets of Australia (see www.ga.gov.au for Australian maps).

General information

Kangaroos are marsupials and belong to the Family Macropodidae (i.e. big feet) that is grouped with the Potoroidae (potoroos, bettongs, rat-kangaroos) and Hypsiprymnodontidae (musky rat-kangaroo) in the Super-Family, Macropodoidea. This comprises around 50 species in Australia and a dozen or more in New Guinea.  Some of the smaller species, such as Yellow-footed Rock-Wallabies, Burrowing Bettongs, accompanied Pig-footed and Golden Bandicoots, Bilbies and possibly Hairy-nosed Wombats into extinction with the advent of pastoralism. However, the largest species remain in much of their original range with the grey kangaroos expanding inland as grazing habitat increased and coastal habitat was lost in clearance for agriculture. The defining feature of the kangaroo family is that they are the largest vertebrates to hop (both currently and from what we know from palaeontology).

The genus Macropus includes not only the large kangaroos but a range of mid-sized macropods known collectively at wallabies or brush wallabies. The exception is the Swamp Wallaby which is in its own genus Wallabia by virtue of its different chromosome number and other features. With the advent of agriculture and pastoralism the wallabies have fared less well than the kangaroos with most species in reduced ranges since European settlement. One species, the Toolache Wallaby (Macropus greyi) is extinct. In this pattern of range contraction, the Swamp Wallaby, is again an exception as it remains reasonably abundant in many peri-urban parks and reserves.

The Wallabies like the larger Kangaroos are predominantly grazers but may take some browse, especially the Swamp Wallaby. They share a similar body form and habits to the larger Kangaroos and are sympatric with Grey Kangaroos or the Antilopine Wallaroo in the north.



Black-striped Wallaby

Macropus dorsalis ('agile long-foot')


Best place to see

Idalia National Park, Queensland

Idalia National Park is located 113 km south of Blackall in the central west of Queensland. For an Outback location, it has an exceptional diversity of macropods with seven species to potentially see. The park has dense mulga woodlands and escarpments of the Gowan Range where Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies can be found (best place to see Queensland sub-species). The park includes a translocated population of the endangered Bridled Nailtail Wallaby and is nominated as the best place to see this species. Thus in the 144,000 ha extent of this large Outback park you can tick of three species on the 'best-place-to-see'. You can also view Red Kangaroos, Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Common Wallaroos and Swamp Wallabies.

The Park has a campground but users need to be self-sufficient including potable water. The roads may be impassable in wet weather. There is a range of other accommodation in Blackall and surrounds.  In addition to macropods, the park has a high diversity of bird species including plum-headed finches and both grey-crowned and Hall's babblers. The topographical diversity, headwaters of Bulloo Creek, gorges and floodplains provide habitat for a diverse flora which includes 15 species of native fuschia (Eremophila spp.).



The Black-striped Wallaby has a distinctive colouration with a number of outstanding facets in the fur. The first of these is the narrow black line that runs from the back of the head to the middle of the back which gives it its common name - 'black-striped'. However, it also has a white cheek stripe and a distinct white hip stripe that runs back from the knee. The fur varies in colour from grey on the back to red on the forequarters with the undersides white to grey-white. Males reach 20 kg and are much larger than females which reach 7.5 kg.



The Black-striped Wallaby typically resides in dense scrub which can be formed from a variety of trees and understorey plants (rainforest to Brigalow scrub) given its geographic distribution from the coast well into the hinterland. Thus in Idalia they are found in the Acacia scrub on the sandy country. They will range out from the scrub into open pasture and in some parts of their range share this pasture with livestock and are thus treated as pests. The use of dense vegetation makes the Black-striped Wallaby difficult to see, especially during the day, and it does not range far from dense cover to forage at night. It is wary in the open and will readily retreat to cover so patience and strategic positioning at the interface between the dense scrub and more open foraging areas.


At Wallaby Creek in northern NSW, the species is sympatric with six other species of macropods. It was largely confined to habitat with high tree density and thick ground cover and the interface between this and pasture. It shared this habitat with Red-necked Pademelons and Long-nosed Potoroos and was thus the largest species in the macropod guild. Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Whiptail and Red-necked Wallabies and Rufous Bettongs occupied a more open habitat of grassland in a mosaic of open woodland.


Foraging behaviour

The diet of the Black-striped Wallaby has been estimated at Taunton Scientific Reserve in Queensland and Wallaby Creek in northern NSW. At Taunton, the Black-striped Wallaby is in sympatry with Bridled Nailtail Wallabies but had a broader dietary niche. They ate at least 75 species of plants but the majority of the diet were grasses (80%) with forbs (herbaceous dicotyledons) and browse forming a minor part. Likewise in NSW they ate mainly monocotyledons, mainly grasses and some sedges. In both locations they eat mainly leaf but include some seed heads of grasses in their diet.


Home ranges have been described for the Taunton population where the climate is distinctly seasonal (wet summers, dry winters). The average home range of a Black-striped Wallaby is 93 ha and this includes shelter (Brigalow Acacia harpophylla scrub) and foraging areas (open pasture). Thus in common with manner mid-sized wallabies the species occupies an ecotone between dense cover and open grassland. Home ranges expanded in the dry season and activity was longer as the quality of forage was estimated to be about half that of the wet season.


Reproductive behaviour

The Black-striped Wallaby is sexually dimorphic with males reaching more than twice the size of females. Breeding is aseasonal, pouch life is 7 months and young are weaned at 10-12 months. Oestrus is post-partum and embryonic diapause occurs so this species shows that classic Red Kangaroo breeding pattern shared with other wallabies like the Agile Wallaby. Home range size are equivalent between the sexes indicative of the gregariousness of this species.


Male sexual behaviour is also typical of the genus with males sniffing the cloaca of females, grasping their tails, standing in front of them and blocking their forward progression, and touching the female's head and body. One characteristic not shared with the large kangaroos is sinuous tail lashing which is infrequent in Black-striped Wallabies. The behaviour occurs in a number of contexts when individuals are thwarted or tentative in their activities.


Courtship is brief and competition for mates does not seem to be intense although the consort male is typically a large individuals. In general, incidences of aggressive and submissive behaviour (collectively known as agonistic behaviour) are low but this has only been inferred from a single study of a captive group.


Social organisation

Black-striped Wallabies are distinguished by their gregariousness, a quality shared with Whiptail Wallabies, but not their presumed closer relative, the Parma Wallaby. Individuals do not associate at random but are more likely than expected to be alone or in a group of 5-6 individuals. They form open-membership groups like the other gregarious macropods with individuals moving frequently amongst associates. Small groups may coalesce into larger ones on highly favoured forage, especially when this becomes sparse in the Dry season.


Further readings

Jarman PJ, Phillips CM, Rabbidge JJ (1991) Diets of black-striped wallabies in New South Wales. Wildlife Research 18, 403-412.

Evans, M.C., Jarman PJ (1999) Diets and feeding selectivity of bridled nailtail wallabies and black-striped wallabies. Wildlife Research 26, 1-20.

Evans M (1996) Home ranges and movement schedules of sympatric bridled nailtail and black-striped wallabies. Wildlife Research 23, 547-556.

Heathcote CF (1989) Social behaviour of the Black-striped Wallaby Macropus dorsalis, in captivity. In 'Kangaroos, Wallabies and Rat-Kangaroos'. (Eds GC Grigg, PJ Jarman and ID Hume) pp. 625-628. (Surrey Beatty & Sons: Sydney)

Hoolihan DW, Goldizen AW (1998) The grouping dynamics of the black-striped wallaby. Wildlife Research 25, 467-473.