Species profile

Northern Nailtail Wallaby

Northern Nailtail Wallaby

Range and abundance

The Northern Nailtail Wallaby is found in the woodlands and grasslands of tropical north Australia. Its range spans from the Kimberley region in Western Australia across the country to Cape York. It tends to avoid areas of higher rainfall in Arnhem Land and Cape York. It is relatively common in suitable habitat.


This small shy wallaby grows to a head-body size of 50 – 70 cm with a long 60 – 75 cm tail. Males are slightly larger (6 – 9 kg) than females (4.5 – 7 kg). They are sandy-brown to grey in colouring and have a dark stripe that extends along their spine to the end of the tail. The very end of the tail is equipped with a small nail.


This small wallaby occurs in open woodlands with tussock grass understorey, or grasslands with scattered trees and shrubs. Being nocturnal, it seeks shelter during the day under low dense shrubs or grass tussocks. By night it moves onto grasslands to feed on a preferred diet of herbs, succulents, fruits, and grass shoots. The Northern Nailtail Wallaby is generally solitary, but may be observed feeding in small groups.


There is no evidence to suggest that the Northern Nailtail Wallaby has declined since European settlement. Potential threats to the wallaby may be a change in fire regimes - especially an increase in hot and widespread wildfires – as well as grazing by livestock and feral herbivores. These threats could decrease the abundance of herbs and grasses that the wallaby eats as well as reduce the cover that it uses to hide from predators. 

What is AWC doing?

AWC protects the Northern Nailtail Wallaby on its north Australian properties through a program of fire management and introduced herbivore control. AWC’s program of prescribed burning is designed to increase the extent of long unburnt vegetation (including ground cover), increase the patchiness of burns and decrease the extent of the properties that are burnt each year. This, along with control of feral herbivore numbers, will help to promote growth of herbs and grasses that are eaten by the wallaby.  

Did you know:

The Northern Nailtail Wallaby is one of three wallaby species that have a nail on the tip of their tails. The purpose of this nail can only be speculated upon.