Northern Ireland

Watching out for the wallaby on the loose in Tyrone

The owners of a wallaby that has escaped in County Tyrone have appealed for help in tracking it down.

The two-year-old male has been on the run for 10 days after burrowing out of its enclosure at Moy.

The adventurous marsupial was last seen about six miles from home in a field at Brantry, near Eglish.

It is part of a family of wallabies - two females and two babies - owned by George and TG Troughton who keep the animals as pets.

George said: "The one that's away is actually the daddy so we would need him back to be able to breed any further.

"Maybe he's away looking for love, but it's County Tyrone, how many wallabies are there? He'd need to come back to get anything round here."

He said the elusive creature had made a bid for freedom about a week before this latest escape.

His brother, TG, said the wandering wallaby could prove difficult to catch.

"He has the whole of Northern Ireland to run free at the moment but if we get a few nets we should be alright," he said.

"I would like him back, simply because he'll be safe in here. I reckon he just wants to get back but he's got lost."

Animal experts say the missing mammal does not pose any danger to the public.

Mark Challis from Belfast zoo said the missing wallaby is from a relatively hardy species.

"They are not, by nature, aggressive animals," he said.

Image caption The missing wallaby captured in a lane way in Brantry near Eglish.

"They are tough enough to cope with our climate and they also eat a relatively wide range of green matter, grass leaves, some fruits, some leaves. At this time of year there would be quite a range of food items for them to eat.

"They are bright enough animals to know routines and develop routines and know who is looking after them."

He said there were populations of wallabies that had escaped from zoos and were living in the wild in places such as Scotland and the Isle of Man - far away from their native Australia.

But there are currently none at Belfast Zoo.

The Department of Environment in Northern Ireland said there were no wallabies on the Dangerous Wild Animal Schedule and it was not currently involved in locating the missing animal.