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Bridled nailtail wallaby
The Bridled Nailtail was once widespread in eastern Australia, then thought extinct, re-discovered in Queensland and successfully re-introduced elsewhere.
Captive group of bridled nailtail wallabies
Bridled Nailtail Wallabies breed well in captivity and this had lead to successful re-introductions.
Idalia National Park
Habitat in Idalia National Park where the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby has been successfully re-introduced. (Image: Queensland Parks and Wildlife)

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).


Only one of the three species of Nailtail Wallabies that were identified at European colonisation of Australia remains widespread. The central Australian species, the Crescent Nailtail Wallaby, is extinct. The eastern Australian species, the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby, was almost extinct but a population remained near Dingo in Queensland and this has been the source of a captive breeding program and successful re-introduction into the other areas. The northern Australian species, the Northern Nailtail Wallaby, remains widespread as the tropical savannah woodlands have suffered leass clearing and impacts from pastoralism. Pastoralism and the introduction of livestock grazing and concomitant changes in fire management and release of rabbits, foxes and cats have wrought a devastating impacts on the attractive mid-sized wallabies. The characteristic of the genus which gives it its common name is a horny excrescence at the tail tail (the nail of the tail). They also have distinctive upper incisors which decrease in size posteriorly (third is smallest) unlike the more regular incisors of other Macropodids. The feet are also exceptionally narrow. The function of the nailtail is debated and some have suggested a prop but hopping is low to the ground and the tail does not make contact.



Bridled Nailtail Wallaby

Onychogalea fraenata ('bridled nail/claw weasel')


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 the Black-striped 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.).



This medium-sized, lightly built and delicate looking species has one of the most striking colour patterns of any Macropodoid. The fur is soft and thick. The underfur is plentiful and dark slate coloured at the base, beginning light grey at the tip. The general colour is a clear grade, with the white bridal mark standing out against this background. An indistinct white cheek strike is present. The rhinarium is narrow and entirely hairy. The ears are relatively short, white inside and greyish brown outside. There is a black dorsal stripe that widens on the neck, and a distinct mark immediately in front of the white bridal. There is a very indistinct pale hip stripe. The underside is a white or pale grey. The fingers and extreme tip of the tail is black.




Foraging behaviour



Reproductive behaviour



Social organisation




Further readings

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.

Fisher DO (1999) Offspring sex ratio variation in the bridled nailtail wallaby, Onychogalea fraenata. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 45, 411-419.

Fisher DO, Goldizen AW (2001) Maternal care and infant behaviour of the bridled nailtail wallaby (Onychogalea fraenata). Journal Of Zoology 255, 321-330.

Pople AR, Lowry J, Lundie Jenkins G, Clancy TF, McCallum HI, Sigg DP, Hoolihan DW, Hamilton S (2001) Demography of bridled nailtail wallabies translocated to the edge of their former range from captive and wild stock. Biological Conservation 102, 285-299.

Sigg DP, Goldizen AW (2006) Male reproductive tactics and female choice in the solitary, promiscuous bridled nailtail wallaby (Onychogalea fraenata). Journal Of Mammalogy 87, 461-469.