Isle of Man: The mystery of the wild wallabies

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

The Isle of Man is largely known for its status as a 'tax haven' and its world-renowned TT races, but what few know about is its vast range in wildlife.

These include hundreds of wild wallabies roaming mainly across the north of the Island.

Wallabies would usually be found living in Eastern Australia and Tasmania, but they are now thriving in the Isle of Man following an escape from captivity in the 1960s.

They are usually found in a swampy 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 takes group of people on guided tours into the Curraghs to spot the 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 in the Isle of Man came from a supposed newspaper article in 1966, with details of a wallaby on the run from Curraghs Wildlife Park - the same park that is still there today.

Manager of the park, Kathleen Graham, said the area surrounding the premises is a "great habitat for them" and would suggest that they originally escaped from the park.

She also said she recalls seeing a newspaper report from 1966 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 grey/brown fur with red patches on their shoulders and neck.

  • Most active at dusk and at night.

  • Roam mainly on grassland eating bark from trees and shrubbery.

  • Thrive in temperate climates.

The wallabies eat plants and shrubberies found in the Curragh, alongside bark from some of the trees. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

While many enjoy seeing the wallabies, some are calling for more research to determine the effect they are having in the Island.

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

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

Despite them living in the Island for over 50 years, the knowledge around the Isle of Man wallabies remains almost a mystery, with many in the British Isles unaware of their existence.