At this time of year (Autumn), we have a few pademelon foraging around the humpy at night. This excites the dogs and ducks no end; they yap (and quack) half the night telling me that the little hoppers are eating our grass. Pademelon are a small to medium sized wallaby that likes to live in bush land with a fair amount of tree cover. They eat grasses and other plants (and are not above nibbling on the tomatoes either). Being mostly nocturnal or crepuscular (being active at dusk and dawn), you generally won’t see them unless you are creeping around at night with a torch.
There are four species of pademelon, three of them live in Australia and they all have red somewhere in their name. The fourth species lives only in New Guinea and is called (coincidentally) the New Guinea pademelon. Red legged, Red necked and red bellied pademelon are all fairly common in forested areas in Australia. We have the red necked pademelon here. They sleep in clumps of fallen timber and long grass through the day and come out at night to eat. We sometimes see them when walking across to the toilet in the middle of the night, especially early evening, more often we hear them hopping around just beyond the torch light.
I have raised pademelon joeys in the past, they are very rewarding, being one of the more affectionate wallabies. They grow fast and can be released into the bush at a couple of months in age and are so cute they melt the heart. They do have one drawback; if they get a fright they give off a horrible stink, it smells like a combination of musk and rotten meat. I don’t know how they make this smell, they may have scent glands somewhere on their bodies, but it is enough to clear the house. There has been a few occasions when a loud noise, like a dropped pan in the kitchen has caused the need for a house wide evacuation and the careful burning of incense to clear the smell (while all animals wait outside of course, incense can be harmful to native animals in concentration).
The main threat to these little hoppers is dogs and cats who love to chase them and often succeed in catching them. They are often hit by cars too, especially in areas of rainforest or heavy bush; they have an annoying habit of bolting out in front of cars just as they drive by. In the long term I think habitat loss is a huge problem for them as they need medium to heavy tree cover, fallen logs and branches and long grass to sleep in. These things make an area high fire danger and so are likely to be cleared away in inhabited areas. Maybe it is best to leave some wild areas on every property to give these little cuties a home.
I tried to get some photos of our resident pademelons with the trail camera but didn’t get anything really good, just blurred blobs of grey on a black background. I did find some photos of one of the babies we raised years ago though.