Wallabies in the UK countryside

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NEWS AND VIEWS: There appear to be wallabies roaming around wild in the British countryside. The red-necked wallaby is about half the size of a kangaroo and they were introduced to Britain to be placed in zoos and private collections but many escaped captivity. The fencing was deemed to be inadequate and this goes back as far as the Second World War.

Wallaby in Co Durham

Wallaby in Co Durham. Photo: Nigel Hewitt (Facebook).

The wallaby is a small marsupial and one has recently been seen bounding across the road in Evenwood County Durham. It scampered across grass verges and hopped down a tree-lined lane last Saturday in plain daylight. Nigel Hewitt, an accountant videoed the event and uploaded it to Facebook. He asked whether anybody had lost a wallaby. People don’t know where it has come from. Mark Birch also filmed a wallaby at the same place.

There was speculation that it was one of the wallabies who went missing from a farm in Low Westwood, a 45-Minute drive from Evenwood. These wallabies were owned by the Willis family and it was claimed that somebody had tampered with their fencing. But a person reported to The Times that they had all been safely returned and therefore this recent sighting is unconnected.

The Times also reports that there have been almost a hundred sightings of red-necked wallabies in Britain since 2008. The police were contacted and they searched for 30 minutes without success.

Somewhere out there in the UK countryside are wallabies surviving somehow and it’s frankly a little bit disturbing not from the point of view of humans from the point of view of the wallabies who have to try and survive in a non-natural habitat.

Wallaby

The wallaby is a small or middle-sized macropod native to Australia and New Guinea. Populations have been introduced into New Zealand and, as you can see, the United Kingdom and indeed other countries. There are 9 species of brush wallaby of which 8 still exist and one has become extinct. They are herbivores living off grasses, vegetables, leaves and other foliage. They can travel long distances to find food and water if it is scarce as it often is in their natural environment. In Australia they face threats from dingoes, dogs, feral cats and red foxes. Humans also undermine their survival. They defend themselves by biting and kicking. Many are killed on roads because they often feed in urban areas and near roadways.

Their natural habitat is in Australia where they are widely distributed. They are less prevalent in semi-arid plains. Comment: they therefore may be not unsuited to the British landscape and climate. Although for many months the British climate might be too cold, I would have thought.