Rufous hare-wallaby

species of mammal

The rufous hare-wallaby (Lagorchestes hirsutus) is a small wallaby found in Australia. It is also known by its Western Desert name mala. It used to be found widely across the western half of Australia, but is now only found in Bernier and Dorre Islands in Shark Bay.[3] It is currently classified as a vulnerable species.[2]

Rufous hare-wallaby[1]
Rufous hare wallaby.jpg
Mammals of Australia, Vol. II Plate 57
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Macropodidae
Genus: Lagorchestes
L. hirsutus
Binomial name
Lagorchestes hirsutus
Gould, 1844
Rufous Hare Wallaby area.png
Rufous hare-wallaby range
(blue — native, red — introduced)

The rufous hare-wallaby is a nocturnal herbivore that eats herbs, leaves and seeds. It is usually solitary, meaning that it lives alone. The species was first described by John Gould in The Mammals of Australia (1844). It is currently being reintroduced to mainland Australia, to the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory.[3] Four distinct groups of this species have been described as subspecies:[2]

  • Lagorchestes hirsutus hirsutus, now extinct
  • Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri, only found on Bernier Island
  • Lagorchestes hirsutus dorreae, only found on Dorre Island.
  • The fourth is an unnamed subspecies that is extinct in the wild. It was originally discovered in the Tanami Desert, and was once widespread across the centre of Australia. The only existing members of this group have been moved to conservation reserves in Western Australia.

The mala is a common totem in Western Desert Aboriginal Dreamings.[4]


  1. Groves, Colin (16 November 2005). Wilson, D. E., and Reeder, D. M. (eds) (ed.). Mammal Species of the World (3rd edition ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 63. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.CS1 maint: multiple names: editors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: editors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Richards, J.; Morris, K.; Friend, T. & Burbidge, A. (2008). "Lagorchestes hirsutus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2008.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Menkhorst, Peter (2001). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia. Oxford University Press. p. 108.
  4. Mala Reintroduction Factsheet.

Other websitesEdit

  Media related to Lagorchestes hirsutus at Wikimedia Commons