Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance logo
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library logo

Red-necked Wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus) Fact Sheet: Physical Characteristics

Red-necked Wallaby Macropus rufogriseus

Physical Characteristics

Body measurements

M. r. banksianus = Australian mainland
M. r. rufogriseus = Tasmania

Note: Subspecies differ in size and weight.

Attribute Males Females
Body weight M. r. banksianus: 15-23.7 kg (33.1-52.2 lb)
M. r. rufogriseus: 15-26.8 kg (33.1- 59.1 lb)
M. r. banksianus: 12-15.5 kg (26.5-34.2 lb)
M. r. rufogriseus: 11-15.5 kg (24.3-34.2 lb)
Head-body length M. r. banksianus: 770-888 mm (2.5-2.9 ft)
M. r. rufogriseus: 712-923 mm (2.3-3 ft)
M. r. banksianus: 708-837mm (2.3-2.8 ft)
M. r. rufogriseus: 659-741 mm (2.2-2.4 ft)
Tail length M. r. banksianus: 703-876 mm (2.3-2.9 ft)
M. r. rufogriseus: 691-862 mm (2.3-2.8 ft)
M. r. banksianus: 664-790 mm (2.2-2.6 ft)
M. r. rufogriseus: 623-778 mm (2.0-2.6 ft)


Data source: Jarman & Calaby (2008)

General Appearance


  • A small member of the kangaroo family
  • Long tapering tail
  • Prominent ears
  • Forelimbs appear small compared to the well-developed hind limbs

Pelage (Jarman & Calaby 2008)

  • Muzzle, paws, and largest toe black
  • Upper lip has white stripe
  • M. r. banksianus: male medium grey to reddish on back, with reddish-brown neck; white or pale gray on belly
  • M. r. rufogriseus: males and females darker gray, neck browner; fur longer for more southern latitudes

Sexual Dimorphism

  •  Pronounced sexual dimorphism; the sexes have many differences (Jarman 1989):
    • Males grow faster than females
    • Adult males are are up to twice as large as females
    • Males' shoulders and arms proportionally larger than females'
    • Coat color of female Bennett's subspecies is lighter than males' coats
  • In macropod species weighing less than 5 kg (11 lb) there is no sexual dimorphism (Tyndale-Biscoe & Renfree 1987)

Other Physical and Physiological Characteristics

  • Features shared with all other members of the taxonomic order Diprotodontia (Nowak 1999) (Agar 2008):
    • A large outward projecting incisor on each lower jaw
    • Second and third digits of hind foot are fused (syndactyly), joined by a skin covering with a single claw
  • Features shared with all macropods (Nowak 1999):
    • Long narrow feet
    • Hind limbs longer and stronger than forelimbs
    • Forelimbs have 5 digits
    • Pouch opens forward, has 4 teats
    • Very small or non-existent vocal cords (Symington 1898)
  • Hind limbs in large and medium-sized members of kangaroo family have unusual properties compared to other animals (McGowan et al. 2008) (Bennett & Taylor 1995):
    • Tendons that extend the ankle generate larger than normal stresses and store more elastic strain energy
    • Higher elastic strain energy results in a reduced tendon safety factor
    • The need to minimize tendon and bone stresses limits the largest body size possible for hopping kangaroos and wallabies
  • Large ears can move independently through 180° (Tyndale-Biscoe 2005)
  • Visual capacity of large kangaroos and wallabies similar to that of rabbits and ungulates (Tyndale-Biscoe 2005)
    • Eyes high on skull
    • Field of vision wide - a tammar wallaby can see 324° for detecting movement in almost any direction
    • Overlap of vision from both eyes is about 25°
      • A rabbit has about 24° of binocular vision
      • A cat has 98° of binocular vision
      • Predators typically have more binocular vision for pinpointing a prey's position
  • Teeth move forward slowly and eventually fall out of jaw, making room for molars erupting behind (Nowak 1999)
    • Four sets of molars thus erupt in a lifetime
    • Animals with similar tooth development: elephants, manatees
    • Very old kangaroos may have only one or two teeth left in each jaw (Marshall & Corruccini 1978)
  • Hands used only occasionally (Weisbecker & Sanchez-Villagra 2006):
    • Pulling down branches
    • Fighting
    • Grooming
    • Holding open the pouch for cleaning
  • Respiration and hopping were linked in a study of tammar wallaby (Tyndale Biscoe 2005):
    • Upon leaving ground - breathe in
    • When landing - breathe out as guts press against diaphragm
    • Researchers suggest that since the force of internal organs striking the diaphragm aids in expelling air, the diaphragm itself isn't very muscular
  • Sense of smell acute observed in Red Kangaroo (Hunt et al. 1999)

Small Paws

Red-necked wallaby on haunches

Wallabies have small forepaws and prominent ears.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Agar (2008)
Hunt et al. (1999)
Jarman (1989)
Jarman & Calaby (2008)
Marshall & Corruccini (1978)
McGowan et al. (2008)
Newsome (1995)
Nowak (1999)
Symington (1898)
Tyndale-Biscoe & Renfree (1987)
Weisbecker & Sanchez-Villagra (2006)

SDZWA Library Links