Black-flanked rock-wallaby

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Black-flanked rock-wallaby[1]
Black-footed Rock-wallaby(small).jpg
Scientific classification
P. lateralis
Binomial name
Petrogale lateralis
(Gould, 1842)
Black-flanked Rock Wallaby area.png
Black-flanked rock-wallaby range
(blue — native, pink — reintroduced)

The black-flanked rock-wallaby (Petrogale lateralis), also known as the black-footed rock-wallaby or warru, is a kind of wallaby, one of several rock-wallabies in the genus Petrogale.


The black-flanked rock-wallaby is a rather wary animal, with black and grey colouration to blend in with its rocky surroundings, later to lighten in colour during summer. It has short, thick, woolly fur that is particularly dense around the base of the tail, rump and flanks. Its long, brushy tail is quite useful for retaining balance as they hop from one rock to another, and the soles of its feet are highly textured to prevent slipping.

This small nocturnal wallaby is found amid rocky outcrops. It is generally greyish-brown with a paler belly and chest, a dark stripe running from its head down its spine, and it has a dark tail and feet.[3]

This wallaby lives in groups of 10–100 individuals. It usually feeds at night in open areas such as grasses, where it can also find fruit, leaves and a variety of herbs. Because most of its water comes from its diet, it rarely drinks and can conserve water by taking refuge from the heat in rocky caves. It is most active when it leaves its shelter at early-evening. Individuals reach sexual maturity at 1–2 years of age, after which time breeding is continuous, depending on rainfall. Females show embryonic diapause; the development of the embryo can cease temporarily until environmental conditions become more suitable for its development to complete. The gestation period lasts around 30 days, and like other young marsupials, the young are poorly developed and suckle inside the mother's pouch until they are ready to leave. Unlike other kangaroos and wallabies, mothers leave their young in a sheltered place while they feed.

Predation by introduced foxes and feral cats, habitat damage caused by sheep, goats and rabbits and alteration of fire regimes have caused the population to decline. Several sites where populations occur are protected, and a recovery plan is underway. Fox control has been established at several sites.


The species was first described by John Gould in 1842. There are at least two subspecies besides the nominate subspecies:[1]

A description published as Petrogale lateralis purpureicollis (purple-necked rock-wallaby) by Le Souef in 1924 is given in some listings,[4] but this is now regarded as a distinct species.[1] The specimens obtained at the MacDonnell Ranges, and from the Western Kimberley, are also distinct enough to be separate subspecies of the black-flanked rock-wallaby. These populations, and the recognised subspecies, are distinguished by chromosomal as well as morphological distinctions.[5]

Endangered status[edit]

Illustration from Gould's Mammals of Australia, 1863[6]

The Australian Commonwealth Government's Department of Environment and Water Resources lists the black-flanked rock-wallaby as having 'Vulnerable' status and cites various habitats in Western Australia.[7] The subspecies found at the Recherche Archipelago was assessed as a vulnerable species in 2006.[8]

In South Australia, the Adelaide Advertiser reported on Monday October 1, 2007 that:

The race is on to save the black-flanked rock-wallaby from extinction and captive breeding programs at Monarto Zoo and Adelaide Zoo are showing early promise.

The State Government claims there are just 50 animals left in the wild in South Australia[9] and the Advertiser article described the process of moving 15 wallabies to captivity in South Australia, with known native locations to be at Pukatja / Ernabella in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara or 'APY' Lands and also at New Well, some 300 km east of Adelaide.[10]


  1. ^ a b c Groves, C.P. (2005). Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 68. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ Burbidge, A.; Woinarski, J.; Reed, J.; van Weenen, J.; Moseby, C. & Morris, K. (2008). "Petrogale lateralis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  3. ^ Australian Geographic - October - December 2015 - P 75
  4. ^ Vulnerable animals list at Archived March 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Elbridge, M. D. B., & Close, R. L. (1995). Strahan, R. ed. Mammals of Australia. Reed Books. pp. 377-381. ISBN 1-56098-673-5.
  6. ^ Mammals of Australia, Vol. II Plate 42, London, 1863
  7. ^ Dept Environment & Water Resources Website Retrieved on October 2, 2007
  8. ^ Australasian Marsupial & Monotreme Specialist Group (1996). "Petrogale lateralis ssp. hacketti". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2006. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
  9. ^ SA Government Ministers Press Releases Archived August 31, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Minister Gago, May 17, 2007 Retrieved on October 2, 2007
  10. ^ Adelaide Advertiser, Monday, October 1, 2007, page 16