A rarely-seen young Nabarlek or pygmy rock wallaby rescued by a Broome wildlife carer has taken up residence at Perth Zoo.
“Norbert” is the only Nabarlek in a zoo anywhere and is set to become a pint-sized ambassador for his species.
The little orphan came to the Zoo from the Kimberley. He was found curled up inside his mother’s pouch in August last year after she was hit by a car and killed near Mount Hart. He weighed just 186 grams.
Thankfully, he was taken to a wildlife carer in Broome who did a wonderful job hand-rearing him. But unfortunately he can’t be returned to the wild as he would be unlikely to survive.
Perth Zoo Director of Animal Health and Research, Dr Peter Mawson, said Nabarleks grow to barely 30 centimetres and are rarely seen by the public because of the remote habitat they occupy in the King Leopold Range and the Mitchell Plateau.
“They are predominantly nocturnal animals that live in rocky outcrops in the Kimberley and the Top End, emerging from their hiding places to eat ferns and reeds,” Dr Mawson said.
“An interesting feature is that because of the tough nature of the plants included in their diet, the four or five molar teeth in each section of the jaw progressively move forward during the Narbalek’s life, ensuring that it is never without the teeth it needs to chew its tough food. Narbaleks are the only macropod that do this.
“Having this youngster at Perth Zoo is a wonderful opportunity for us to learn more about this species and for the public to get to know another native Australian animal.
“He can’t be released into the wild because he simply would not have the skills needed to survive the predators that target these little macropods, so we will give him a good home at the Zoo.
“Norbert – who now weighs a healthy 1.4kg – was hand-reared alongside a companion agile wallaby in Broome so we will be placing him with a companion quokka in the Nocturnal House so that he has company.”
The youngster will start his ambassadorial duties in the Nocturnal House on 1 March.