Macropods (meaning ‘big feet’) make up a large part of Uralla’s animals and consist of Red Kangaroos, Western Grey Kangaroos, Euro’s, Tammar Wallabies and Brushtail Wallabies. They live on average 20 years. Males fight for supremacy and the right to mate the females. This fighting can be to the death. Females reach sexual maturity at around 2.5 years of age. Males do not play a significant role in mating until around 5 years of age as they need strength to subdue the female and fight other males contenders.
Pregnancy, though it differs a little for each species, is approximately 30 days. Female macropods are loving mothers and in the case of the Western Grey suckle their offspring for 18 months and then provide it with protection and food for another 6 months. Females will usually stay within the home range of their mothers and have a continuing relationship for life. Females can have an ‘at foot’ joey plus one in the pouch and produce two nutritionally different milks to meet the different needs of both their offspring.
Most macropods (though not Western Grey Kangaroos) have the ability to hold an embryo in suspension to be allowed to develop into a tiny joey at a later stage. This is called embryonic diapause. Joeys weigh approximately three grams at birth and are blind and deaf. They must travel, unaided by their mother and using their front claws, from cloaca to pouch guided by their sense of smell as they seek the milk.
Macropods can hop at about 60 kilometres an hour and can sustain this speed for several hours. A truly remarkable animal!
… DINGO – Canis Lupis
The dingo’s closest relative is the wolf from South-East Asia. Dingoes have been in Australia for at least 3,500 years. Dingoes come in three colours; sandy or ginger, which makes up the largest number at around 90%, followed by black and tan at 7% and white at 3%.
Dingoes live in a matriarchal society with very often the dominant female being the only one allowed to breed. Other females must help her raise her pups. Contrary to popular opinion the dingo is very timid and shy around humans. Dingoes, like wolves, have an inherent fear and mistrust of humans and will generally avoid confrontation, preferring to flee at the slightest hint of trouble.
The Dingo is Australia’s ‘top order predator’ and plays a major role in keeping other wildlife healthy and balanced. They also play a significant role in keeping feral foxes and cats at bay, allowing our small marsupials to thrive. Dingoes will mate with wild dogs, however the consequent successful rearing of the offspring is rare due to the harshness of life in the wild. Natural selection ensures that only these with minimal domestic dog characteristics survive. Hybridization – as this is called – has been occurring in other wild canine species throughout the world for thousands of years with very little impact on the purity of the species in general.
Mating only occurs once a year between February and June. The lifespan of a dingo is approximately 30 years.
The Dingo is the only native animal to be classified as ‘vermin’ and government policy of aerial baiting and shooting is active in an attempt to eradicate the species. Their excuse for this abhorrent policy is the misguided information that the dingo is no longer pure. Heavy lobbying by pastorelists and graziers has helped push this policy of eradication. Uralla along with other likeminded sanctuaries are determined to keep our dingoes in the belief that one day their valuable place within the ecosystem will be realised and then there will still be some alive to be released where they will once again be able to take their rightful place.