Imagine yourself walking through the English countryside. You might expect to come across some squirrels, moles, foxes, and badgers. However, you may find an unexpected animal friend crossing you path: a red-necked wallaby!
Wallabies are marsupials indigenous to Australia and New Guinea that first came to England because they were popular animals to have in zoos. However, their speed and strong jumping abilities make them naturally good at escaping and evading recapture. Additionally, the natural vegetation of the British countryside is comparable to that of their native habitats, allowing them to flourish.
The wallabies’ presence was been relatively unstudied until a team of researchers published an article in 2020 detailing ninety-five recorded sightings of wallabies all across England between 2008 and 2018 with a particular cluster in the Chiltern Hills region. The study determined that the animal is persisting in low numbers across England and becoming increasingly common. Indeed, some of the sightings even included females with young in their pouches, suggesting that they might be breeding. The researchers stressed that we can’t know exactly how many wallabies exist in the wild because the efforts it would take to survey the population would take much more time and money than what has been attempted.
More research is needed in order to help determine if the English wallaby population is self-sustaining, thus becoming established in the country. One population in the Peak District, that had survived for several decades, has already died off, leaving question about the future of this new, southern population, especially given the already crowded environment of the English countryside. So, for now, wallabies still face an uphill battle establishing themselves in England.