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
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 less 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.
Northern Nailtail Wallaby
Onychogalea unguifera ('carry nail/claw weasel')
Dunmarra, Northern Territory
Dunmarra is 635 km south of Darwin and 49 km from Daly Waters which is nominated as the best place to see the Spectacled Hare-wallaby. Like Daly Waters there are no reserves near Dunmarra and the search for the Northern Nailtail Wallaby requires excursions into the hinterland with the benefit of local knowledge and respect for private property and aboriginal lands. Accommodation can be found at the Dunmarra Wayside Inn which provides camping, a caravan park and a motel and bar. On overview of the Mitchell Grass Downs bioregion which includes Dunmarra is found in the Australian Natural Resources Atlas. The town was named after Dan O'Mara, a man who got lost in the area. His name was mispronounced by Aboriginal trackers and the town is often misspelled as Dunmara which is located in the UK. There is a small historical reserve, Frew Ponds, allowing access to Nailtail habitat.
Ingleby S (1991) Distribution and status of the northern nailtail wallaby, Onychogalea ungifera (Gould, 1841). Wildlife Research 18, 655-676.
Ingleby S, Westoby M, Latz PK (1989) Habitat requirements of the Northern Nailtail Wallaby, Onychogalea ungifera (Marsupialia: Macropodidae) in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. In 'Kangaroos, Wallabies and Rat-kangaroos.' (Eds GC Grigg, ID Hume and PJ Jarman) pp. 767-782. (Surrey Beatty & Sons: Sydney)