Wallabies and wallaroos are not typical household pets. These animals have a variety of specific needs in regard to housing and diet.
Before you go out and purchase either species, you must be certain that you can provide an appropriate home, and that you understand the pros and cons of becoming a macropod owner.
1.) Do You Need a License?
Both wallabies and wallaroos are considered exotic animals and may be subject to laws governing their import, export, and keeping.
It is imperative that you research all potential legal ramifications before your purchase your pet. Failure to do so will not only subject you to fines, but may result in the seizure of the unfortunate and innocent animal.
a.) Licensing in the U.S.
In the United States, the definition of the term “exotic” is ever-changing. Traditionally, “exotic” refers to an animal that is neither native nor indigenous to the owner’s locale. Legally, however, the term may be defined differently from one jurisdiction to another.
The federal government defines an exotic animal as “an animal that is native to a foreign country or of foreign origin or character, is not native to the United States, or was introduced from abroad.”
Licensing requirements vary greatly from one state to another. Many states have laws forbidding the possession of exotic animals, while others simply require a license – some have no licensing or permit requirements at all.
Overview of State Exotic Animal Laws:
At the time of this writing, late in 2013, the following information regarding state law in the United States was accurate. Be advised, however, that the language of these statutes is often convoluted and confusing. It is always best to verify the legal status of any exotic animal BEFORE you purchase your pet.
Most Dangerous Captive Wildlife Banned as Pets
Bans Some Species but Allows Others
Doesn’t Ban Captive Wildlife, Requires Permit for Some
No Regulation or Restriction on Captive Wildlife
b.) Licensing in the U.K.
In 1976, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act was enacted in the United Kingdom. This act was passed in reaction to the increasing number of people seeking to keep exotic pets, which tend to be more dangerous than the traditional domestic cat or dog.
The act was also designed to regulate the keeping of hybrids between wild and domestic species. Though neither wallabies nor wallaroos are typically dangerous to humans, they are still considered wild animals and their export, import and keeping is strictly regulated.
Some of the animals specified as “dangerous” by the act include primates, carnivores, large reptiles, spiders and scorpions.
Several species of marsupial, including wallaroos are also included in this list, although in most cases wallabies are allowed.
In order to legally keep these animals in the UK, you must apply for a license and pay a fee. The information on the license and the regulations set forth may vary slightly from one region to another, so be sure to contact your local council regarding specific requirements in your area.
For a full text version of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, visit: www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1976/38
2.) How Many Should You Buy?
The number of macropods you purchase to keep as pets depends on a variety of factors, the single most important being space. Wallabies and wallaroos are active wild animals in need of adequate exercise. They do not do well when confined to close quarters.
When thinking about multiple macropods, consider both size and personality. Some species are more social than others.
Generally, it is not a good idea to keep a pair of males together unless you have multiple females as well. Your best bet, if you plan to keep more than one macropod, is to keep several small females or several females along with their young.
Keep in mind that as your wallabies or wallaroos grow, you may need to reduce the number you keep or increase the amount of space you use for their enclosure. As young joeys mature, they may come into competition with each other if they are male.
There is no specific formula for keeping multiple macropods together – it largely depends on the socialization and the individual temperaments of the animals.
If you plan to keep more than one macropod in the same enclosure, make sure the area is large enough that each animal has its own space. Carefully observe the animals at all times to make sure they are getting along.
3.) Can Macropods Be Kept with Other Pets?
The answer to this question varies from one animal to another depending on the wallaby or wallaroo’s temperament. Some smaller wallabies may see other pets like dogs and large cats as threats, while larger wallaroos may have no trouble getting along with Fido and Fluffy.
It is best to keep young joeys away from other pets but adults can be compatible with domesticated animals as long as you supervise their interaction.
It is never a good idea to leave your macropods alone with other pets because you never know how the animals will react to one another – it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Young joeys could be severely injured by a family dog that is simply over-excited. Wallabies, wallaroos, and kangaroos should NOT be kept with cats.
The macropods can become infected with the protozoan that causes toxoplasmosis, which may be present in the feces of cats even if the cat itself shows no symptoms. This disease is fatal to joeys of all macropod species.
4.) Ease and Cost of Care
Because of their energy and overall friendly natures, both wallabies and wallaroos are a pleasure to keep as pets, especially when they have been bottle raised. That bonding experience makes them unusually affectionate and loyal with their humans.
Before you purchase a macropod, take the time to make sure that you are able to cover all of the initial costs of purchasing your pet as well as the monthly costs you can expect to pay over the lifetime.
a.) Initial Costs
The initial costs for keeping a wallaby or wallaroo will include the actual cost of the animal as well as the necessary accessories and veterinary procedures.
Purchase Price – Prices for both wallabies and wallaroos vary greatly depending where you purchase them. Because both are still fairly rare as pets, there aren’t a large number of breeders and prices are quite high – usually between $1,000 and $4,000 (£646 to £2585).
Microchipping – It is not a requirement that you have your macropod microchipped, but it is definitely a good idea. In the event that your wallaby or wallaroo gets lost, you stand a much higher chance of being reunited with him if it has been microchipped. The average cost for this service is around $40 (£30).
Vaccinations – If you purchase a macropod from a reputable breeder, it should already be up to date on its vaccinations.
If it is not, or if you purchase an older animal, you should take it to the veterinarian to have it vaccinated. The cost for this service may vary between $50 and $100 (£37 to £75).
Food/Water Containers – In order to feed macropods, you will need a free standing or wall mounted hay rack as well as a dry trough for food. Additionally, you will need several containers for fresh water.
The cost for these items may range from $100 to $150 (£65 – £97). Don’t neglect to factor in multiple feeders if you have more than one pet, or if you are providing both indoor and outdoor feeding options.
Enclosure – The cost of your macropod enclosure will depend on a number of factors including size, quality of materials, type of bedding, and included furnishings.
The range for enclosure costs falls between $500 and $2000 (£323 – £1293). Depending on climate, you may be looking at a pen with “lean to” like sleeping accommodations, or a pen with an actual shed or small barn.
Be advised that groups of macropods will sleep together, so all shelters will need to be large enough for all of your pets to bed down together in one big bunch.
Wallabies and wallaroos take rather well to creature comforts, and enjoy large, soft dog beds, which you can scatter around their primary pen or inside their shed.
It’s difficult to put an exact cost estimate on your enclosure since there are so many variables. If you are a do-it-yourself type, you can save a great deal of money on both labor and materials. I recommend going online and looking at photos of wallaby and wallaroo enclosures to get ideas for design and arrangement.
Summary of Initial Costs
b.) Monthly Costs
The monthly costs for keeping a macropod may vary depending on whether you have one or more, the type of food used, and the preferred bedding.
Food – The most important cost you will face on a monthly basis is food. This amount will vary depending on type and quality. For one wallaby or wallaroo, you can expect to pay about $200 to $400 (£123 – £246) per month.
The following products are meant as examples of the types of food you will use with your pets. Please note that prices will differ by locality and availability.
If you feed horse or “pony” cubes, you’ll pay, on average $45-$50 / £25-£31 for 88 lbs. / 40 kgs.
Prices per bale of alfalfa hay will vary by location and amount. It is important that the hay be dry and fresh. If you buy by the bale, expect to pay $225 / £8 per ton (2000 lbs./907 kg).
Kangaroo muesli or mixed food, which is fine for wallabies and wallaroos is priced at $45 / £28 per 77 lbs. / 35 kgs.
Vaccinations – To protect your pet from disease, you should administer vaccines based on your veterinarian’s recommendations. Vaccinations typically cost around $10 (£7.50) per injection.
Veterinary Check-Ups – Typically only an annual visit to the vet will be required. The total cost for this visit should be under $50 (£37.40), which averages to about $4.16 (£3) per month.
Other Costs – Be prepared to cover some extra costs once in a while like replacing enclosure furnishings, cage repairs and other things you may have to purchase on occasion. The average monthly cost for these extra items is around $10 (£7.5).
Summary of Monthly Costs
Pros and Cons of Owning a Wallaby or Wallaroo
One of the major draws of keeping either a wallaby or a wallaroo as a pet is their exotic nature. At the same time, however, that can be considered a drawback.
Pros of Wallabies and Wallaroos as Pets
- If properly socialized, can be very friendly
- Can be trained to follow simple commands
- Commercial diets are available for easy feeding
- Are often very affectionate with humans, form strong bonds
- Unique pets, always entertaining to have around
- Joeys can be hand-raised on formula
- Very gentle by nature, especially if properly socialized around humans
Cons of Wallabies and Wallaroos as Pets
- Depending on species, can grow fairly large
- Can become mischievous, may do some damage if not properly supervised
- Require a significant amount of space– a fenced pen or pasture is necessary
- Can be very expensive to purchaseand keep compared to other pets
- Some speciesare nocturnal, may not be very active during the day