Escapees from a local Wildlife Park
They’re a long way from Australia but these cute and furry marsupials have made themselves at home on the Isle of Man. Watch out for them on the roads near the Wildlife Park and see them on footpaths in the Curragh.
I’d heard about the local Wallabies when I first moved to the island and kept my eyes peeled whenever I was out walking or driving on country roads. I actually didn’t see any until two summers ago when I and some friends were invited for a walk through the Curragh in the north-west of the island. It’s here that you’ll have more of a chance of seeing Wallabies than anywhere else.
Though Wallabies have been spotted as far south as the Braaid, their main stomping grounds are generally around the area they originally escaped from in the 1960s – the Curragh Wildlife Park in Sulby. The story goes that two wallabies escaped the same year that the park opened and now there’s a sizeable population living in the grasslands and swamps to the north of it.
Red Necked Wallabies are found in Australia and Tasmania and live in similar situations to the temperate, swampy lands they live in here on the Isle of Man. They seem to have really taken to it too since we actually boast the largest population of them in the northern hemisphere.
John “Dog” Callister, the friend who took us for the wallaby tour told us about how he’d been keeping an eye on these fascinating creatures for years. Occasionally he’ll find one that is blind but after being checked over by the veterinarian, he’s released it back into the wild. Despite some issues, wallbies are thriving and a 2014 report from the BBC and Manx Wildlife Trust Director, Duncan Bridges, stated that there are now more than 120 of these animals on the island and that their numbers are increasing due to lack of competition and predators.
Wallabies have a tendency to bounce out onto the road so take extra precautions when you’re driving around the TT course near the Wildlife Park. Keep in mind that some of them won’t see you coming!
If you’d like to see them on a walk, head for the Close Sartfields and Ballaugh Curragh nature reserves and quietly walk along the public footpaths. Spot other local wildlife there including rare orchids and local birds if you’re lucky you’ll even see wallabies with babies.