Species profile



Photo courtesy of Lochman Transparencies.

Range and abundance

The Nabarlek occurs as three isolated subspecies across northern Australia. The Kimberley subspecies occurs along the far northwest coast of the region and on offshore islands, the subspecies occurring in the Victoria River and Mary River districts of the Top End is probably rare, while the third subspecies occurs in eastern Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt. All subspecies are associated with extremely rocky rugged country.


The second smallest of Australia’s rock-wallabies, the Nabarlek grows to a head-body size of 29 – 35 cm and weighs 1 – 1.7 kg. It has a tail that is slightly shorter than its body length. Its fur is light grey to black with dull rufous tones, and lighter grey on the belly. It has a dark black stripe running from its forehead to nose and under its eyes. The tail is tipped with a black brush.    


The Nabarlek is a nocturnal and solitary marsupial. It spends the day sheltering in caves and crevices, and emerges at night to feed on grasses and herbs. Breeding likely occurs throughout the year but may increase in the wet-season with the influx of food availability.


The Nabarlek is likely threatened by predation from feral cats, changed fire regimes – especially the increase in frequency of intense wildfires – and grazing by introduced herbivores. While data remains limited, Nabarleks appear to have declined in the Northern Territory and are of unknown status in the Kimberley. 

What is AWC doing?

AWC is protecting Nabarlek habitat at the Artesian Range by implementing fire management (prescribed burning), eradicating feral herbivores and researching ways to reduce feral cat activity. AWC is conducting vital research to understand the impact of feral cats on native fauna and investigate methods of control. At Artesian Range, we are encouraging a stable Dingo population as this has potential to help reduce feral cat activity. 

Did you know:

To cope with the extremely high levels of the abrasive silica that may be within their diet, the Nabarlek has developed an extraordinary ability to replace worn molar teeth. When the frontal molars become worn from grinding food, the Nabarlek loses these front teeth and grows new molars at the back of the jaw, this causes the remaining molars to shuffle forward into the space left by the lost teeth.