The Woylie population have sadly declined in the last 15 years from an estimated 200 000 animals to less than 15 000. The Woylie are listed as critically endangered and their numbers are rapidly declining
The Woylie is a small animal and range in size from about 28 – 45 centimetres from the head to the base of the tail. The tail adds another 29 – 36 centimetres to their entire length. The male is slightly bigger than the female
The average weight is from 750 grams – 1.8 kilograms
The Woylie used to be found across most of the Australian mainland. They are now found in Upper Warren and the Dryandra Woodland, Tutanning Nature Reserve and Perup Forest and there are translocated populations at Batalling. They also live in fenced in areas in Mt Gibson, Karakamia, Scotia, Yookamurra and Whiteman Park and in New South Wales and South Australia.
The Woylie, also known as a Brush-tailed rat kangaroo, have greyish-brown fur on their back. The fur on their underside is lighter in colour. Their hind legs are longer than the length of their heads. They hop around on their hind legs while they keep their shorter forearms close to their bodies. The tail has no hair, but a brush of black hair is found at the tip of the tail. The tail acts as a fifth limb and they use it to carry around grass or sticks to build their nests.
The Woylie behaviour consists of:
- Woylies are solitary animals and they can be aggressive in defending their feeding areas
- The Woylie have a well-developed sense of smell and they communicate with each other by urination, faeces and by rubbing scent glands
- Mating takes place year round. The female only has one young at a time, but they can produce up to 3 offspring per year. The young stays inside the mother’s pouch for about 110 days until the next offspring evicts it, then it will stay in the dome shape nest until evicted once again by a sibling
- They reach sexual maturity at around 170 – 180 days
- The lifespan of the Woylie is typically around 4 – 8 years, but they can live longer in captivity
They are omnivores and their diet consists of roots, legume pods, bulbs, seeds, insects, carrion and underground fungi.
Woylies love to dig and they love fungi, especially truffles. They spread fungal spores and seeds whilst digging and foraging and helps the woodlands maintain a healthy eco system. They are nocturnal and forage between dusk and dawn.
The Woylie can be found in temperate forests and desert grasslands, but they prefer an open forest or woodland with grasses and woody shrubs.
Predators such as feral cats and foxes and diseases are the biggest threats to the Woylie population. Loss of habitat and food due to agricultural activities and fire is also seen as a threat.
Numerous research initiatives and Woylie recovery plans have been implemented to save the Woylie population. They have been relocated to predator free zones and they are monitored for diseases and stress.