Wallaroos, like kangaroos and wallabies, are Australian marsupials and members of the family Macropodidae, meaning "large foot." In other words, they are middle-sized mammals with big feet which raise their young in pouches. Wallaroos are larger than wallabies but smaller than kangaroos. Like kangaroos, they stand on their back legs, eat with their front paws, and carry babies in their pouch. Wallaroos are stocky and powerful, with shaggy fur and bare black snouts. Males can weigh anywhere between 50 and 100 pounds, while females are more likely to be 40 to 50 pounds. While it's unusual to own a pet wallaroo in the United States, it's not unheard of; it is, however, important to check on the laws that govern exotic pet ownership in your state.
- Scientific Name: The common grey wallaroo is Macropus robustus and the red wallaroo is Macropus cervenus.
- Lifespan: Both males and females live 15 to 20 years.
- Size: Male common wallaroos grow to be about 78 pounds, while females are about half that size.
- Difficulty of Care: Advanced
Wallaroo Behavior and Temperament
Wallaroos are shy and it takes time to teach them to socialize. However, they are curious and will bond quite nicely with their owners if well raised (while still nursing), socialized, and treated positively. They can be friendly, playful, and affectionate, but also mischevious, albeit entertaining. They can be taught to understand "no," but they need firm corrections and never physical punishment.
On the downside, that mischievousness may lead to damage if you're not supervising them properly. Wallaroos are very active animals and do enjoy plenty of attention and playtime. In addition, some species are nocturnal and won't be active during the day when you want to interact.
Housing the Wallaroo
If you live in an apartment, a wallaroo may not be the best pet because it's an animal that needs a lot of space. In fact, keeping a wallaroo indoors at all is a challenge. If you're considering keeping a wallaroo in the house, keep in mind that these animals won't use a litter box, so you'll need diapers on hand. You'll also need to remove any fragile or breakable objects because the wallaroo is like a bull in a china shop given its penchant for jumping.
This marsupial is from the wild pastures of Australia and is a jumper, so you'll need a large yard, pen, or pasture that is secure and fenced for your wallaroo to run and exercise. The fence should be at least 6 feet tall, and your wallaroo needs 2,000 feet of space. The fence also keeps out unwelcome animals. Cats can be a threat to wallaroos due to the spread of toxoplasmosis. If your wallaroo comes across cat waste that's infected, he can become fatally ill quickly.
In addition to exercise space, your wallaroo (or wallaroos) will need a shelter of some sort (a shed or lean-to) with appropriate bedding and access to food. Wallaroos also require a temperature ranging from 40 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so you might need additional provisions for heating or cooling.
Food and Water
Wallaroos are herbivores, naturally grazing on grasses and shrubs in their natural environment. In captivity, give them a constant supply of fresh, good quality hay (such as Bermuda or ryegrass). Ideally, provide a grass pasture for grazing (securely fenced). You can also feed them a commercial kangaroo/wallaby diet (e.g. Mazuri). Offer a variety of fresh vegetables as treats. Vitamin E and selenium supplements are also recommended.
If you get a baby wallaroo, you'll need to bottle feed with formula every few hours until they can eat on their own. While this does take time and effort, it's also a great way to bond with your new pet.
Common Health Problems
Wallaroos are subject to many of the same diseases experienced by other medium-sized mammals—viral and bacterial infections, injuries, and cancers to name a few. To protect your pet's health it's important to make a connection with a local exotic vet and bring your wallaroo for a visit as early as possible. Vaccines can help prevent illness, and regular vet visits can catch any new problems as early as possible.
While wallaroos can sometimes be kept with other domestic animals such as sheep or goats, it's important to avoid the possibility of animals sharing diseases. Keep wallaroos away from cats and any predatory animals, and introduce dogs slowly to avoid any possible negative interactions.
Purchasing Your Pet Wallaroo
There are only a few breeders in the United States and even fewer in the UK that raise wallaroos. You will need to research and visit a breeder to find your pet. Once you arrive, be sure to spend some time with your potential pet. Look for animals that are active, bright-eyed, and curious. Be sure the wallaroo you're considering is not afraid of humans, and check to be sure its coat is shiny and its weight is appropriate for its size. In general, it's ideal to adopt a wallaroo when it's as young as possible to increase the likelihood that it will bond well with you and your family.
Laws regarding exotic pets such as the wallaroo vary from state to state and even from county to county. Before making a purchase, check out all the local laws and be sure you have the proper facilities to legally house a wallaroo. Even if it is legal to own a wallaroo, you may need to apply for and purchase a license.
Bear in mind that wallaroos are expensive to pay and care for. Expect to pay between $1,000 and $4,000 to purchase your pet plus an additional investment if you have to set up fencing. Food adds another $200 and $400 per month.
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