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Rufous Hare Wallaby (Lagorchestes hirsutus)

Rufous Hare 

The Rufous Hare Wallaby (Picture: B & b Wells)

This species was very common in central and western Australia, so common that the rufous hare wallaby was a source of food for the aborigines. Rufous hare wallabies are currently only found in the wild on the islands of Dorre and Bernier, here are a few small captive populations on the Australian mainland. Rufous hare wallabies are classified as endangered. Low numbers of the species can be attributed to the loss of habitat, predators, and competition for food. Lagorchestes hirsutus translates to “dancing hare”.

Rufous hare wallabies are nocturnal marsupials that prefer to be alone. Burrows can be found in hummock grasslands. The burrows are used as nests during the day. Hummocks and spinifex are also used as daytime shelter. This species appears to scrape out its own shallow burrow. When a rufous hare wallaby is disturbed in the burrow, it will jump out quickly and try to escape.

The average head and body measurement of the rufous hare wallaby is about 350mm with an average tail measurement of 270mm. A rufous hare wallaby can weigh anywhere from 800-2000g. Females are generally larger and weigh more than males. Rufous hare wallabies tend to be about the size of a rabbit and equally as delicate. The fur is a grey-rufous color that fades into a light yellow in the sides and underbelly. There is some white fur present on the upper lip and the ears. The tail is a tan hue that is grey at the tip.

Rufous hare wallabies enjoy a fiber rich diet that includes herbs, shrubs, grass, and seeds. A favorite of this species is regenerating vegetation. Aborigines used to burn the vegetation in the winter which provided the rufous hare wallaby with an abundant food supply, unfortunately the aborigines are no longer present in the animal’s habitat.

Breeding depends on the amount of rain that has fallen that year, the species will not breed if there is not ample rainfall as the young will not survive. Females are capable of raising about one young each year.


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A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia, Menkhorst, P. and Knight, F. ©2001.

Australia: An Ecotraveler’s Guide, Robinson, H. ©2004.

Animal Info-Rufous Hare Wallaby, Massicot, P., 8/9/04, www.animalinfo.org/species/lagohirs.htm.

Rufous Hare-wallaby, Lagorchestes hirsutus, South Australian Museum, 8/8/04, www.samuseam.gov.au/extinctions/rufous.htm.

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