Onychogalea unguifera (Gould, 1840)

Russell A. Mittermeier & Don E. Wilson, 2015, Macropodidae, Handbook of the Mammals of the World – Volume 5 Monotremes and Marsupials, Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, pp. 630-735 : 696

publication ID

https://doi.org/ 10.5281/zenodo.6723703



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scientific name

Onychogalea unguifera


9. View On

Northern Nail-tailed Wallaby

Onychogalea unguifera View in CoL

French: Wallaby a queue ongulée / German: Nordliches Nagelschwanzkanguru / Spanish: Ualabi de cola de una septentrional

Other common names: Left-hander, Northern Nailtail Wallaby, Northern Nail-tail Wallaby, Organ-grinder, Right-hander, Sandy Nailtail Wallaby, Woop Woop, Wut Wut

Taxonomy. Macropus unguifer Gould, 1841 ,

“ North-west coast of Australia.”

Subspecies are weakly differentiated and validity of the form annulicauda requires confirmation. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution.


O. u. annulicauda De Vis, 1884 — NE Australia. View Figure

Descriptive notes. Head—body 53.4-69 cm (males) and 49-60 cm (females), tail 62:3-73.1 cm (males) and 51.6-65.5 cm (females); weight 3.9-9 kg (males) and 4.4-7 kg (females). Sandy brown dorsally, paler and more creamy gray ventrally and on limbs. Paws and feet light creamy gray. Head gray, with pale cheek stripe. Prominent pale hip stripe and indistinct light shoulder stripe. Ears long and gray, brownish at base. Dark brown mid-dorsal stripe extending along length of body from neck onto tail. Tail long, light gray proximally and darkening distally, with a series of indistinct rings and a short dorsal crest of long dark hairs at tip; proportion of tail that is dark and intensity of the dark annulations variable. Distinctive flattened, hard, nail-like projection on end oftail. Shoulder and tail markings reported as being more prominent in O. u. annulicauda. Diploid chromosome number is 20.

Habitat. Open grassy woodland, tall shrubland, and grassland with scattered trees or shrubs. Common on riverine floodplains and edges of black-soil plains. Absent from areas of high rainfall.

Food and Feeding. Selective browser; feeds predominantly on forbs and succulents, but fruit, seeds, and green grass shoots also consumed. Substantial amounts of grass eaten only when forbs are not available.

Breeding. Females reach sexual maturity from 6-5 months and males at ¢.7-5 months. Females breed throughout year, producing one young per pregnancy. The estrous cycle is 20-23 days and gestation 17-24 days. Females exhibit embryonic diapause and post-partum estrus, mating within three days of giving birth. Young spend c.4-5-5 months in the pouch and are weaned 2-3 months after permanent pouch emergence.

Activity patterns. Nocturnal; shelters during day in a shallow scrape under low dense shrubs, grass tussocks, or spinifex ( Triodia , Poaceae ) clumps, before emerging at night to feed in more open areas.

Movements, Home range and Social organization. Poorly known. Generally solitary, although feeding aggregations of up to four animals can occur. May travel more than 3 km to feeding areas.

Status and Conservation. Classified as Least Concern on The IUCN Red List. Although this remains a poorly known species,it appears to be widespread across northern Australia and often locally common. Populations in some areas may have declined, and some habitat has been lost to intensive agriculture. Additional habitatis likely to be lost in the future as development in northern Australia expands. Little ofits habitat is within protected areas. The long-term impact of cattle grazing and changed fire regimes is unclear. Predation by introduced Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) may be a threat in the south of its range. Additional research on taxonomy, abundance, general ecology, and impact of potential threats is required.

Bibliography. Burbidge et al. (1988), De Vis (1884), Hayman (1989), Ingleby (1991b), Ingleby & Gordon (2008), Ingleby et al. (1989), Johnson (2003), Menkhorst & Knight (2001), Troughton (1967), Woinarski, Winter & Burbidge (2008).














Onychogalea unguifera

Russell A. Mittermeier & Don E. Wilson 2015

Macropus unguifer

Gould 1841
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