Owning and Care for a Pet Wallaby
When most people think of Exotic Pets the Wallaby isn't one that immediately comes to mind. However as there is a breeder near where I live (in Alberta, Canada) a few people in the area have them as pets. I must admit to having considered building a proper area for them myself.
- Species of Wallaby Kept as Pets
- Care of a Pet Wallaby
- Feeding a Pet Wallaby
- Selection and Purchase
- Links on other Exotic Pets
Species of Wallaby Kept as Pets
Most people are not aware that there are several species of Wallabies. In the pet trade the Bennett's Wallaby is the most common, they are a sub-species of the Red Necked Wallaby. This is for several reasons, they are more tolerant of weather extremes (as I mentioned people keep them as pets in Canada), and are easier to tame. The second most popular type of Wallaby for pets are the Dama (aka Darma or Tammar) Wallaby. These can be more nervous and prone to stress related problems, and as such are not a beginners Wallaby. As well the Dama Wallabies are nocturnal where as the Bennett's Wallaby is Diurnal (awake in the day).
The Bennett's Wallaby has a lifespan of roughly 12 to 15 years. They stand about 2.5 feet tall, weighing roughly 25-25 pounds.
Bennett's Wallabies are mainly solitary animals and therefor do not require the company of other Wallabies.
Care of a Pet Wallaby
Getting exercise and sunlight (vitamin D) is very important to the health of a pet Wallaby. The Wallaby needs a good outdoor shelter and “run”.
The shelter can be a dog house, provided it is insulated if the climate is colder, and heated if climates are very cold in the winter. Some owners allow their pets into their home or have a barn for shelter at night or in bad weather. The enclosure must be well fenced, and offer a space that is at least 20 ft x 50 ft. The fence itself should be 6 ft high and dug into the ground if predators are an issue. A proper backyard fence (made out of wood) is good, but many people use chain link fencing or stucco wire. Chicken wire is not suitable. If chain link fencing (or stucco wire) is used it is a good idea to run a plastic ribbon through the fence at about 2 feet off the ground. This is because if startled a Wallaby might run into the fence and break its neck, so this serves to remind it.
Shade should be provided, if there are no trees a picnic table can provide some shade.
They can be paper trained but most people do not bother with this as their feces are dry pellets.
Wallabies can be harness – leash trained and be taken for walks. However one might want to use caution if walking near dogs as a dog might just think this strange animal is threatening.
Feeding a Pet Wallaby
In some areas, such as New Zealand and Australia, livestock feed stores, and specialty pet supply shops can bring in commercial Wallaby diets (Happy Hopper is one). Wallaby feed may be hard to find in North America or Europe. Where Wallaby feed cannot be found a horse or llama pellet can be used provided it does not contain molasses. It is always best to find out what the breeder was feeding and to stick with that, any changes to diet must be made slowly or will result in diarrhea, which can be fatal.
While outside they will also graze on the grass in their yard. In the winter they should be fed hay, and this can be offered in small amounts to get them use to it as grass becomes scarce. Throughout the year they may also be fed fruits from your yard or store, however it is important to select organic fruits only and even then, wash them.
Never spray your own yard or fruit trees if you are going to be feeding the produce to your pets. They are fond of apples, carrots, romaine lettuce (no other lettuce types should be fed) and sweet potatoes. One should avoid feeding cabbage, and other members of the broccoli family as these may cause stomach problems.
As with all animals they require fresh water at all times, and if temperatures get below freezing will need a heated water bowl.
When keeping any type of exotic pet it is important to have a veterinarian that is familiar with them, and willing to treat them. Diarrhea is one of their biggest concerns. Respiratory problems are an other worry, particularly in areas where temperatures drop and the animal does not have adequate shelter.
I have heard that there is some concern regarding the risk of Toxoplasmosis being transferred from cat feces to Wallabies, as such if your cat is catching mice (this is how cats become infected) be sure they are not using the wallaby pen as a litter box.
In general it is important to have a veterinarian that is familiar with Wallabies or willing to learn.
Selection and Purchase
The first time I saw a Wallaby for sale was at an auction in my area, it was a male a few years of age. He was not particularly friendly (I believe it was a Dama Wallaby) and arrived in a small dog carrier. He sold for just over $500 Canadian. Of course buying such an animal at auction is always risky.
Ideally you would want to purchase directly from a breeder. The breeder will help you ensure your housing facilities and fencing are adequate and that you know what you are getting into. They can also help you with feeding suggestions. You can then select a friendly animal, ideally a younger one, and can discuss with the breeder the special needs of Wallabies. You may note that some young animals will still enjoy being carried in a pouch, and very young animals may need to be fed special formula (not cows milk).
You may note that males tend to be rougher, but females are harder to find and more expensive. A neutered male who was not encouraged to play rough at a young age tends to make the better pet.
Avoid buying from pet stores.
Finally before getting such a pet it is very important to check the laws in your area. Some areas allow Wallabies in the country, but not in the city itself. Some areas require permits for ownership. If you do not own your home, but rather are a renter, you need to get landlord permission for such an exotic animal.