The family Macropodidae consists of around 53 species of marsupials (mammals with pouch to carry their infants) like kangaroos, wallaroos, pademelons, and wallabies. Most of them share similar characteristics, like large hind legs and a long and strong tail. Most of them have smaller heads, as compared to the size of their bodies. One such macropod species that is closely related to kangaroos and wallabies is the wallaroo. They belong to the genus Macropus and have a size, that is intermediate to that of kangaroos and wallabies. Wallaroos are larger than wallabies, but smaller to kangaroos in size. These macropods are found in various parts of Australia.
Though, smaller than kangaroos, wallaroos are large and stocky. Usually, adult males have almost double the body weight of females. While the male members have a body length of up to two meters, females grow to a length of around 1.5 meters. In case of males, the tail length can be around 90 centimeters, and in females, it is around 75 centimeters.
One of the interesting facts about wallaroos is that these animals use their tail as a third leg, for support while sitting. They have coarse shaggy fur, that can be dark gray, reddish, or black in color. These animals have bare muzzles, large ears, and black snouts. In general, wallaroos have a particular posture with their wrists raised, shoulders thrown back, and the elbows drawn close to the body. Wallaroos thump their feet to warn others of impending danger, and when threatened, they emit hissing sounds.
They belong to the genus Macropus, which consists of three species - Macropus robustus, Macropus bernardus, and Macropus antilopinus. Macropus robustus, which is otherwise known as eastern wallaroo, common wallaroo, or wallaroo, is the most common species with four subspecies. Macropus bernardus or black wallaroo is the smallest species with a stocky body. Macropus antilopinus, which is otherwise known as antilopine wallaroo, has some distinct traits as compared to other species. Unlike other species, antilopine wallaroos are found in groups, and their habitat includes grassy plains and woodlands.
Wallaroos are generally found in rocky areas with stony grounds, rock overhangs, and caves. In fact, the name wallaroo is a combination of both wallaby and kangaroo, and it means rock kangaroo. They are nocturnal, as they spend the daytime sleeping. During night, they indulge in grazing. Wallaroo diet includes grasses and shrubs. Most of them are solitary, with exception to the antilopine wallaroos. It has been observed that these animals can survive without water for a long time, during dry spells. They can also dig holes in the ground to a depth of around one meter, to find water.
These animals reach sexual maturity between the age of 18 to 24 months, and can breed throughout the year, even in adverse conditions. A single wallaroo is born after a gestation period of 32 days. The newborn is called a joey, which is hairless and small. Soon after birth, the newborn enters the mother's pouch, and attaches itself to the teat. Usually, a newborn stays inside the pouch for almost one year. The lifespan of wallaroos ranges between 17 to 20 years.
These animals do not come under threatened or endangered species, but one subspecies of eastern wallaroo, called the Barrow island wallaroo (Macropus robustus isabellinus) is classified vulnerable.