Photo courtesy of Lochman Transparencies.
Range and abundance
The Spectacled Hare-wallaby occurs in grasslands and open woodlands in the lower rainfall regions of northern Australia. Its distribution and abundance has contracted since European settlement. It has declined in Western Australia but remains relatively common in some parts of the Northern Territory and northern Queensland.
It typically grows to 40 – 47 cm in body length and has a 37 – 49 cm tail; adults weigh 1.6 – 4.5 kg. Its fur is brown with white tips on its upper body and white below. The wallaby gains its name from the bright orange rings around its eyes. It has a white stripe on its hip and a tail with sparse grey brown hairs.
The Spectacled Hare-wallaby is an inhabitant of open woodlands and hummock grasslands where dense tussocks of grasses provide shelter. It is solitary but may occasionally be seen browsing with others for its diet of shrubs and grass shoots. It is thought to breed throughout the year. Gestation is around 30 days, and young leave the pouch when they are about 5 months old.
Being a specialist of dense tussock grasslands, the Spectacled Hare-wallaby is likely threatened by altered fire regimes and grazing by introduced livestock. Increasingly intense and frequent wildfires, as well as grazing by livestock may degrade and decrease the extent of suitable grassland habitat. The wallaby is a size where it may be vulnerable to predation by feral cats.
What is AWC doing?
AWC protects the Spectacled Hare-wallaby and its tussock grasslands on Wongalara through a program of fire management and control of feral herbivores. Prescribed burning on Wongalara is designed to increase the extent of long unburnt vegetation (including grasses), increase the patchiness of burns and decrease the extent of the properties that are burnt each year. The exclusion of feral herbivores from 1,000 sq km of Wongalara should improve the condition of ground cover vegetation. We also encourage a stable population of Dingoes as this may help decrease the activity of feral cats.