Since the sad February drowning of the female Swamp Wallaby, I haven’t seen any Wallabies around – until this morning! This one came up and over the wall of the dam, which it skirted, and then up to the house to feed on a patch of cape weed leaves. However, it didn’t hang around for long. Ten minutes after it arrived near the house, it took off in a hurry, mid mouthful, with long leaves hanging out of its mouth. Something seemed to scare it. Perhaps it caught sight of me through the window? If you’re a Wallaby, it is probably good practice to run when a human has something trained on you, even if it is a camera.
I’m so familiar with the sleek form of the Eastern Grey Kangaroos, which often graze outside the window that the Swamp Wallaby seemed strange. Kangaroos tend to slowly work their way from one appetizing patch to the next, often raising their heads and gazing into the distance while they chew. In contrast, this Swamp Wallaby seemed to eat very quickly, ripping the leaves up and chewing very fast, giving the impression that it was ravenously hungry. The kangaroos have been coming up to the house so often, they don’t get alarmed easily. We can walk outside to get wood for the fire, get into the car, or view them from the end of the deck without them becoming alarmed. The Wallaby was obviously very nervous about being so close to the house, and it never looked settled. One tiny thing set it fleeing back into the bush.
The Wallaby in the photograph above still obviously has its heavy winter fur. I love the tones of grey, brown and russet contrasted with those jet black paws and claws. However, the thick-set, heavy appearance of the Wallaby belies its small stature. Compared with a Kangaroo, Wallabies have bulky forelimbs, a thick possum-like face and generally seem bottom-heavy. This seems to be confirmed by the noise they make when they flee. When hopping fast, Wallabies make a loud thumping noise, while Eastern Grey Kangaroos make a lighter padding sound. On the occasions where I’ve disturbed a hidden Wallaby in the bush, it has given me quite a start with the ‘THUMP, Thump, Thump apparently coming from nowhere!
Here’s hoping I have a few more chances to observe the Swamp Wallaby up close – without it wrecking my garden! Those strong forelimbs are very good at ripping branches out of fruit trees and ornamental shrubs! However, it’s welcome to eat as much cape weed as it likes!