Invisible herbivores

One of the most common and influential herbivores in this forest ………  is this one. Its not that often seen, but it always leaves plenty of calling cards. Its droppings can be quite varied, depending on the moisture content of the diet.

In winter and especially in spring, when plants have soft new growth, and the animal eats a lot of tasty little shoots and soft leaves, the droppings are often very sloppy. The gut can’t (or doesn’t need to) absorb the excess moisture in the food and a speedy gut-passage rate doesn’t allow the formation of the more typical pellets.

 When the diet is more balanced, discrete pellets ’emerge’……….

…..though sometimes its in between. This is the dung of Swamp Wallabies (Wallabia bicolour), a species that has definitely profited from post-European colonisation in rural Victoria. As long as there’s a bit of cover around, Swamp Wallabies can survive in surprisingly open areas. If there’s plenty of cover and plenty of food, population numbers can build up to the point where over-grazing occurs; not quite on the scale of Eastern Grey Kangaroos, but high enough to modify the ground layer and shrubby vegetation. Herb-rich Foothill Forest at Boho South has densities of Swamp Wallabies in the order of one animal, per  two-four hectares (pers. obs.).

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