A Parma wallaby is the smallest of the macropus family, which includes all wallabies and kangaroos. When resting, they are somewhat round in appearance. They have brown fur with lighter markings on chest, face, neck, and sometimes on the end of their long tail. Males are larger and stronger than females.
The Parma wallaby is a native of the Great Dividing Range, which is between the Watagan Mountains and the Gibraltar Range in Eastern Australia. It lives only in New South Wales, occupying wet, sclerophyll forests that have grassy openings and thick undergrowth. The Parma wallaby is found sometimes in dry, eucalypt forests but also in wet, tropical habitats.
Parma wallabies are solitary, cryptic creatures. They are nocturnal, although sometimes they are active at dawn or dusk, spending the day sheltering under cover. Soon after waking at dusk, they start feeding, usually gathering in groups of two or three individuals to forage. Their diet consists of grasses and herbs. Most social interactions occur at sunrise, when their activity peaks. These animals are bipeds and they move with a hopping type of gait, with their tail acting as a counterbalance. When resting they will often sit “tripod style,” being balanced on their hind legs and tail. They communicate visually, with tail wagging, quivering, and foot stomping to signal aggression. They will also communicate with their mates by clucking, or coughing, with hissing as another sign of aggression.
These wallabies are polygynandrous (promiscuous), two or more males mating with two or more female wallabies. They breed between the months of March and July, and produce one offspring each breeding season. Gestation is for about 35 days. The newborn remains in its mother’s pouch. After 30 weeks it is ready to leave the pouch, but continues to nurse until 10 months, when the joey becomes completely independent of its mother. Since the parma wallaby is a solitary creature, the only interactions between adult males and females are when they mate. Males take no part in caring for young. A female reaches sexual maturity at about 16 months, and males between 20-24 months.
The main threat to Parma wallabies is predation by a number of introduced natural predators, including feral cats, foxes, and dingoes. Another main threat is habitat destruction, as bushfires and grazing by livestock can also reduce the amount of suitable vegetation where wallabies can shelter.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total number of the Parma wallabies’ population is between 1,000 and 10,000 individuals. Currently they are classified as near threatened (NT) on the List of threatened species.
The Parma wallaby is a grazer of small vegetation and so is a predator of small shrubs and other plants in its environment.