Isle of Man: Mystery of the Wild Wallabies

Article and video report by Isle of Man journalist Joshua Stokes.

The Isle of Man is widely known for its “tax haven” status and world-famous TT racing, but what few people know is its vast wildlife.

These include hundreds of wild wallabies roaming mainly in the north of the island.

Wallabies typically lived in eastern Australia and Tasmania, but they now thrive on the Isle of Man after an escape from captivity in the 1960s.

They are usually found in a swamp wooded area of ​​the Manx countryside known as the “Curraghs” in Ballaugh, but there have been reports of sightings all around the island.

John Callister has been exploring the area for years and taking a group of people on guided tours of the Curraghs to spot wallabies.

John Callister has been studying the area for many years and regularly sees wallabies in the north of the Isle of Man. Credit: ITV Granada reports

The first reported sighting of a wallaby on the Isle of Man comes from a supposed 1966 newspaper article, with details of a wallaby on the run from Curraghs Wildlife Park – the same park that is still there today.

Park manager Kathleen Graham said the area surrounding the locals is “great habitat for them” and suggests that they originally escaped from the park.

She also said she recalled seeing a 1966 newspaper article detailing how a wallaby was on the run just a year after the wildlife park opened in 1965.

Wallaby facts

  • They are similar to kangaroos, but smaller in size.

  • They have gray / brown fur with red spots on the shoulders and neck.

  • Most active at dusk and at night.

  • Stroll mainly through the grasslands, eating the bark of trees and shrubs.

  • Thrive in temperate climates.

Wallabies eat plants and shrubs found in the Curragh, as well as the bark of some of the trees. Credit: ITV Granada reports

While many enjoy seeing the wallabies, some call for more research to determine the effect they have on the island.

Some raised concerns about potential blindness and other illnesses in the population caused by inbreeding.

As the population grows, some have also wondered how far they should be allowed to travel after an increase in wallaby-related traffic incidents.

Although they have lived on the island for over 50 years, knowledge of Isle of Man wallabies remains almost a mystery, with many in the British Isles unaware of their existence.

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