Are there Kangaroos in New Zealand?

A lot of tourists and even New Zealanders think that there are kangaroos in New Zealand since I wasn’t sure I looked it up, and this is what I found:

There are no kangaroos that are native in New Zealand, and the only ones to be found are at zoos and animal eclosures.

In fact, people are often mistaken about the presence of kangaroos in New Zealand that it created a phenomenon called Phantom Kangaroo.

Phantom kangaroo is a report of sightings and evidence of kangaroos in areas where there is no native population.

Back in the day, two men in New Zealand reported that they saw a giant kangaroo about nine meters tall.

Since that story was made public, you can only imagine the outpour of other people claiming that they saw a wild kangaroo when in fact, the country does not have any wild population of kangaroos up until now.

A Kangaroo or a Wallaby?

If it’s not wild kangaroos, what exactly did they see?

Well, New Zealand is not home to kangaroos, but they are to many species of wallaby.

A wallaby is a member of the kangaroo clan primarily found in Australia and on nearby islands like New Zealand.

Although it’s kind of unbelievable that such cute looking creatures could wreak havoc, New Zealand is actually having a huge problem dealing with them.

Due to its high number of populations, wallabies are considered pests and a threat to their native ecosystem.

Wallabies have been present in New Zealand for over 140 years when just three pairs of Australian Tammar Wallabies were introduced in the South Island by Sir George Gray.

But the imports of wallabies continued, and the species eventually grew their number.

But the infestation problem didn’t really start when the wallabies began to invade the mainland.

They began to compete with livestock for pasture and damage the native plants. They also have the habit of trampling vegetation.

To make matters worse, since wallabies didn’t originate from New Zealand, they don’t have a natural predator. Talk about a wallaby takeover!

What is a Wallaby?

Aside from being a kangaroo look-a-like, what exactly is a wallaby?

Also, how are they different from the kangaroos in Australia?

Wallabies (scientific name: Notamacropus) are marsupials or pouched mammals.

When a young wallaby is born, it is undeveloped and tiny which is why they will immediately crawl inside the mother’s pouch where it will continue to develop after birth.

The life span of a wallaby is around 9 years in the wild.

When fully grown, they can be up to 14 inches tall and up to 53 pounds heavy.

Their tails can be anywhere between 13 to 30 inches long.

So even if wallabies are typically small to medium-sized animals, the largest one can reach 6 feet high from head to tail!

Their species are grouped by their habitats like shrub wallabies, brush wallabies, and rock wallabies.

Most wallabies are very shy, and they spend most of the day resting under trees or tall shrubs.

They only go out to eat after dark so even when you’re in New Zealand, you won’t see them as often as you think even with their large numbers.

Here are some of the common species of wallaby in New Zealand:

  • Common Scrub Wallaby (Wallabia rufogrisea)
  • Dama Wallaby (Thylogale eugenii)
  • Black-tailed Wallaby (W. bicolor)
  • Rock Wallaby (Petrogale penicillata)

What’s the difference between a Kangaroo anda Wallaby?

It is very easy to confuse wallabies with kangaroos because both of them are pouched animals with prominent hind legs that jump around the place.

So what sets them apart?

Height

The most obvious difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby is the size.

Kangaroos are generally larger than wallabies.

A kangaroo can grow up to 59 inches long compared to a wallaby that can only grow up to 14 inches tall.

Legs

Another difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby is the build of their legs.

A kangaroo’s legs look like they aren’t proportioned to its body.

This is because kangaroo’s legs are built for speed while a wallaby’s legs are more compact and are built for agility in forests.

Color

Usually, a wallaby’s coat or fur is brighter with two to three different colors compared to a kangaroo.

Take a yellow-footed rock wallaby for example. Its fur is a mixture of brown, gray, white, and yellow or orange.

The rock wallaby’s fur is naturally colored like that because these colors provide camouflage among the surrounding rocks.

On the other hand, a kangaroo’s coat is usually less eye-catching with muted colors like brown or gray.

Are Wallabies dangerous?

Wallabies are not dangerous if unprovoked. Like any other shy animals, wallabies tend to stay away from people.

Wallabies are usually placid and caring, which is why people tend to forget that it is not smart to approach them.

If a person gets too close, wallabies may see him/her as a threat and may become aggressive.

The legs of a wallaby are really powerful, and a kick will surely give you a bruise or two. But on a rare occasion that somehow a wallaby was provoked and trying to attack you, act submissive.

Let out a short, low cough because that’s how kangaroos and wallabies admit inferiority to another. Stand sideways so you won’t expose your organs.

Slowly retreat but don’t turn your back and run because a wallaby can easily chase you.

Wallabies are herbivores, so they will not attack a human on purpose.

But they do pose a threat to New Zealand’s environment. Since their diet is composed of plants, wallabies eat native and exotic vegetation.

When they are present in high numbers in such a small area, wallabies can change the pattern of the forest succession and that’s why New Zealand classifies wallabies as pests.

New Zealand’s local governments have the primary responsibility for wallaby control. Since wallabies are classified as unwanted organisms and possession of any live wallaby is illegal under the Biosecurity Act, they can be hunted all year round.

Methods of Wallaby control

Wallaby control is essential since they populate at such a high rate and they pose significant welfare and environmental issues.

But any management method must be rapid and humane and should follow the existing legislation of every local government in New Zealand.

There are different ways of wallaby population control.

Shooting

Night shooting is one of the common things that locals do to control their population.

Every person who is shooting must have a firearms license or is under the supervision of someone who does.

According to experts, the practice for shooting wallabies are the same as rabbits.

For more information, read New Zealand’s publications on good practice guidelines on monitoring and pests control.

Fencing

If you’re planting, putting a fence around the perimeter is necessary to avoid wallabies eating your plants.

You can also use an appropriate electric fence to deter any other pests.

Repellents

Repellents are used to make sure that your plants will be unattractive to wallabies and rabbits.

This should be applied every now and then to make sure that the new growth occurring are covered.

Legal requirements

Even if wallabies are considered pests, there are still guidelines to follow.

For more detailed information, you can visit New Zealand’s legislation guide to pest control here.

Wild Animals Control Act

Anyone may hunt or kill wild animals as long as they have the permission of the owner and they follow other laws.

Arms Act

Firearms license is needed to use a gun and you should inform the police when you’re hunting.

Animal Welfare Act

All steps in pest control should be humane.

Forest and Rural Fires Act

You should avoid starting or causing fires and during an open season, you need to secure a permit to light a fire.

Trespass act

Before doing pest control work, you must have permission on both public and private land.

Wild Animals Control Act

Anyone may hunt or kill wild animals as long as they have the permission of the owner and they follow other laws.

Arms Act

Firearms license is needed to use a gun and you should inform the police when you’re hunting.

Animal Welfare Act

All steps in pest control should be humane.

Forest and Rural Fires Act

You should avoid starting or causing fires and during an open season, you need to secure a permit to light a fire.

Related questions:

Will a Kangaroo attack you?

Although thare are reports of people getting attacked by Kangaroos. The last one was back in 1934.

Are there Kanaroos anywhere else in the world?

There is only one other country in the world that has Kangaroos and that’s Papua New Guinea.

Sure, there are many different rumors claiming to have seen them in several other places of the world but not on of them´has been dokumented.

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