Roo Facilities, Fencing, Housing & Other Considerations

By: Chris Thompson

Owner: Fox Hill Farm & PeeWee's Pampered Pet Products

(This information also appeared in an article written by Chris Thompson in the March 2007 issue of Rare Breeds Journal)

I have raised wallabies since 1990 and over that time built and changed housing and fencing several times to try to get it right. I would change it again if I moved again. Always searching for BETTER as we all do, I think. In saying that, this is some of the things I have made better and hope this can help in some way. We all have a different life style and area to deal with and we must adjust to it.

The answers to the following questions are just my opinion, what I have learned the hard way. You might want to take some of this and incorporate it into your situation. That is how we all make it better for our animals, to share is the KEY.

Build with safety in mind. Only you know your area and exactly what harm there may be to your macropods.

I hope this can help you in some way to make a better, safer place for our Macropod, which is the key to a healthier Mac.

Chris Thompson



Click on any image below for a larger view


Questions on Housing:

* What kind of housing do they need?
* How big does it need to be?
* Does it need a floor?
* What kind of heat does it need?
*What temperature does it need to be in winter?
* What about doors on houses?
* Is there anything else I need to know about housing?



Questions on Pens & Fencing:

* Where do I build my pen?
* What size pen does my wallaby need?
* How tall do my fences need to be?
* What type of fencing should I use?
* What about gates?



Questions on Hay, Water & Salt:

* What should I feed hay in?
*Can I use automatic waterers?
* Do macs need salt?



Questions on Cooling & Heating:

*How do I keep my macropod cool in the summer?
- Shade Screens
- Trees & Bushes
- AC / Swamp Coolers
- Water Misters
* What kind of heat does it need?
*What temperature does my housing need to be in winter?



Questions on Introducing New Members:

*How do I introduce a new macropod to a mob?
*How do I move a joey outdoors?



Other Questions:

*Anything else I should know?




* What kind of housing do they need? / * How big does it need to be?
A question often asked is what kind of house do my wallabies need? Personally, I live in Colorado and we get temperatures below 0 and above 100 degrees, along with lots of snow in the winter. I use 2 different kinds of houses. Wood & plastic.

My plastic ones are calf houses, (this is a polyethylene plastic which comes in round and rectangle/oblong shapes), and I have one in each pen. That is all I had for my wallabies the first 2 years until I built wood buildings. The calf houses have light and air vents on top. You can hang a heat lamp from the vents if needed. You can find these at www.polydome.com. Your local feed store may carry them also.

Rectangular Calf House from PolyDome
Home-made hay feeder in front
Round Calf House from PolyDome
Rectangular Calf House from PolyDome
Home-made hay feeder in front


Our wooden houses are like your standard shed. My wood buildings are 12' x 14' or 14' x 14'. You can set it on cinder blocks for a foundation or onto a poured cement foundation. Leave the floor as dirt. This helps keep moisture from running in because there is no floor. Try to face the front to the South as this helps in winter for warmth and summer for coolness.

Large wood shed:
Small door for you macropod & large door for you
Large wood shed:
Small door for you macropod & large door for you

If you live in hot climate where winter nights don't get below freezing, you may not need much heat and can use a 3 sided building with a roof, or just a calf house.

You will get macropods who want to be alone. They can go to their house for seclusion. The calf houses are good to use for a sick macropod or to quarantine one if need be. I also use them to help introduce a new wallaby by setting up a temporary pen around it for 2 weeks. The new wallaby can get to know the new mob through the fence and visa versa. Keeping the new one in its own pen next to the mob will help them to become familiar and after awhile they can be put together without conflict. The calf houses can be moved so easily and are very easy to clean. I hang a pouch in the calf house and on the fence. If they feel threatened they can get in the house or into the pouch.

I'm often asked, "Can I use a dog house/Igloo house?" My answer is NO, they are not big enough. If the housing is too small and your macropod gets startled and suddenly jumps, they can get hurt hitting the ceiling or walls. Dog houses are not as safe as the calf houses. The calf houses come in different styles and sizes. I have the round and rectangluar. I like round the best. Be sure to buy one that lets light in. Do not get the light-blocked type. Buy a calf house that is a minimum size of 4' round x 5' high. All my calf houses have a center adjustable flow vent, which is simply a cap that turns to open & close to allow ventilation. I never get one with a door. I make a door out of welded wire and put screening over it.

Calf house with my home-made door: Welded wire with screen over it.


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* Does it need a floor?
I do not have floors in the bottom of my roo houses. I do loosen up the dirt floor, rake out some of the dirt and put in sandbox sand about 6 inches or more deep, and then cover with their grass hay. This helps the drainage and keeps their hay drier and cleaner. I use Tek-Trol®, a penetrating disinfectant which provides broad-spectrum kill of gram-positive and gram-negative micro-organisms, (available from Jeffers Vet Supply) sprayed in the dirt and sand. I spray our incubators with it and it is safe for embryos. In fact it is safe for all animals. Today we spray Tek-Trol® in the marsupial houses and playpens and we do the room as well. By spraying this product we have no bacteria.


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* What kind of heat does it need? / * What temperature does it need to be in winter?
I would avoid any heating on the floor or lower wall area because the wallabies or roos may get burned. Also, heat too low can catch hay on fire! NEVER USE INFRARED LAMPS OVER THEIR FEED. This will kill the vitamins and minerals in the feed. You can hang radiant heat lamps high to the level needed to warm the space. We always hang the heat lamps at one side of their area so they can move away from the heat if they get too hot. We have heat lamps hanging with guards over them. As an example on warmth, we keep ours set at 40 degrees with an auto on and off switch. You can get a thermostat at the hardware store, just like the one that is on your home furnace control. That way the heat will come on and off as needed. It is also good to put a wall hanging thermometer up high in the roo house so you will know what the temperature is. Remember, heat rises. Depending on how tall you buildings are, it may be warmer near the top than down where your macropods are. You can adjust the heat by adjusting the height of the hanging heat lamp. You want the chill off but do not want to overheat them either. You are the judge for the comfortable temperature in your area.


Heat lamp hanging in shed in winter.
Note how it is off to one side so the macs can move away from it if they want to.

Also, in the summer, we replace the heat lamp bulbs with regular light bulbs and still have them come on and off automatically like the heat lamps.

If you are using some sort of electric heaters or furnace instead of heat lamps, you NEVER want air blowing directly on them.


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* What about doors on houses?
In a large wood shed I would put in a regular size door for me to get into the house. This door is on the east or west side of the building in the front corner. On the south side of the buidling, in either the left or right corner, make a door for your wallaby by cutting out an "upside down U" shape. Cut the "upside down U" 24 inches high x 18 inches wide. Be sure to cut the opening at least 6" above the ground. This stops rain from running in and helps keep a draft off the floor inside. Hinge the piece you cut out and use it for a door. Put a latch on it. Be sure to sand down all cut edges so your roos won't get injured. When you need to catch them in a hurry, just shut the small door as soon as they hop in. In the summer the big door can be opened so it doesn't get too hot inside. My wallabies use the small door even when big side door is open. They feel more secure going through this door.

I never get a calf house with a door. I make a door out of welded wire and put screening over it.

ALWAYS MAKE SURE DOORS ARE LATCHED OR SECURED WHEN THEY ARE OPEN. One large gust of wind could swing it shut as your precious baby is standing in the doorway, causing injury or even death!

Large wood shed:
Small door for your roo & large door for you
Close-up view of small door
Calf house with my home-made door: Welded wire with screen over it.


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* Is there anything else I need to know about housing?
We have a large window on the front of our wood sheds, well up off the ground (use plexiglass only, not real glass). This lets light in.

You can put a small skylite with vent holes around it in the roof. Build it so that rain or snow will not come in. You will get to like Tuff shed and building stores.

Inside ceiling of shed with vent, light bulb & heat lamp


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* Where do I build my pen?
When deciding where to put your pens your area of land and location of other buildings will determine how you can arrange the facility. Do you have a hill side, flat area and rocks and trees? These factors all make a difference in placement of your pens. Only you know this based on your place but also consider this, can you see the pens from your house?

When deciding where to put your building and pens look at the overall area and ask yourself what is safe from the stand point of inside the pen and out. Make sure there is not anything that an outside animal can climb up to get inside the pen, like trees or other buildings.


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* What size pen does my wallaby need?
I suggest to at least have them 50' x 50'. Mine are 75' x 75'. I have 5-7 marsupials in a pen and building. If you have more roos in the pens and buildings, they will need to be larger.

The one thing I would do different if I built new pens would be to round the corners in pens. But if you have more than one pen, rounded pens are much harder to join together.

Outside pen area
Outside pen area showing houses


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* How tall do my fences need to be?
/ * What type of fencing should I use?
I use 6 foot tall chain link and 6 inches of other fencing under in the ground so other animals do not dig under and get into their pen. 8 foot tall fencing would be better. Yes, they can jump a 6 foot fence! Also, when the Mac's push on the fence to get that blade of grass on the other side, they CAN push their head under..but when they try to pull back their haed can get stuck in or under the fence and it can hang them!

We do not use barbed wire at the top of the pen because they may try to jump over and the barbed wire can rip up the mac, causing injury.

If using electric wire put it to the outside of the top of the fence and on the bottom.

You can use other fencing but it should be pliable so if they hit it at a hard fast hop, they bounce off. That's why I use chain link fencing. Use a type they can not climb and still bury it 6 inches in the ground.

REMEMBER to secure the bottom of fencing with a 'no dig' like a trench of wire fencing 6 inches into the ground.

Always secure the wire top in both chain link and wood so they cannot get poked in the hand or get a leg caught between.

If tying to fencing using hogwire or plastic ties, ALWAYS point ends OUT of the pen. Any wire left pointed inside pens can poke them in the eye or cut them.


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* What about gates?
All gates should have a cement pad or stone under so there is no digging under there.

The latch on the gate should have a safety chain hooked to it. Other animals can open gates, in other words, take no chances on escape!!

Safety latch on gate


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* What should I feed hay in?
I use a plastic-type container with a lid (such as a rubbermaid container) in each pen to put their hay in to keep it dry. Cut an opening just small enough so they can put their head in to pull out hay. Sand or file away any sharp edges after cutting the opening. The opening should be at least 4 inches from the bottom of the container so water from rain or snow-thaw cannot run into the container. Place a brick in bottom of the container. This keeps the macropods, and the wind, from turning it over. The reason I use a container and don't just put their hay on the ground is because bacteria builds in hay when it is left on the ground and it gets wet. This also contaminates the ground where they stand and eat. Also, these hay containers are easy to move to a new location and very easy to clean!

Hay container with lid open
Hay container
Hay container


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* Can I use automatic waterers?
If you want automatic waters, make sure it is the kind they cannot get their hands and head stuck. Some kinds have a float in them, and macs can get stuck in these. If you live in a cold climate area, like I do in Colorado, you will probably want automatic waterers that are heated. We use Nelson brand waterers, available from www.nelsonmfg.com. We like the Nelson wateres because the stainless steel bowl is easily removed which lets you empty, clean and sterilize the bowl away from the waterer. They also have a rounded top rim which helps keep birds out.

Always put a cement pad under and around the waterer. This helps prevent a muddy area from forming where they would have to stand to drink. A good idea is to put sand around it to drain off any water puddles. In the winter, any water spilled or splashed out as they drink onto the ground can freeze and they can slip and hurt themselves. Raise the sand up some at this time of year.

We put our waterers between two pens so wallabies from two areas can use the same waterer. Be sure fencing is secure around the waterer so heads and hands can't get stuck in the fence and so they can't sneak past the waterer to the other pen.

Nelson automatic waterer
Nelson automatic waterer between two pens



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* Do macs need salt?
Yes, hang a salt block in a holder on wall inside their housing. Salt & salt block holders are available at your local feed store or online at various livestock product places.

Salt block hanging inside house


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* How do I keep my macropod cool in the summer?
Shade Screens:
In the pen it is a good idea to have a sun screen area such as a small lean-to with a slanted top. This can be made with metal fence posts, wrapped with shade cloth, making it double sided, and cushioned. Face it where the west sun is shaded.

You can also put screening along the fence itself. Make it 4 feet high. Again, face it where the west sun is shaded. Always put the screening on the outside of the fence.

You can use screening in the southwest corner of the pen, on 2 sides, 12 - 15 feet long. Put a PVC pipe across the corner to lace screening on top of fence.

If you use screening on top of a pen, be CAUTIOUS in any areas of the country where you get snow!! It MUST be structured right. Heavy snow will bring it down on top of them!

Shade screen
Shade screen


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Trees & Bushes:
I DO NOT recommend bushes in pens. Some are poison.

If trees are in the pen area, put fencing all the way around them and far away from the tree so the macropod cannot reach the bark.

If planting trees in pens, or trees are already in the pens, place fencing far enough away from the trees so the roos have plenty of room to hop between the tree and the fence and not get stuck.

Be aware of trees with nuts or berries. Anything that drops could harm your roo.

If trees are close to your pens on the outside of the fence, remember other animals can climb up and over and get into their pens.

Fence around tree
Fence around small tree


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Air Conditioners/ Swamp Coolers:
Due to our no humidity climate, we have swamp coolers up high in each building. If you are in a more humid climate you will want an air conditioner mounted high in the building. Be sure to have thermal control on the air conditioner and/or the swamp cooler and do not ever run it 24 hours in a row.

Air conditioner mounted in wall

Water Misters / Hose Misters:
You can use misters that attach to a water hose on the fence. Put the misters up on top of the fence; adjust nozzles to mist the area but not the animals themselves. Watch so water puddles do not collect. You may have to move the mister every few days.

On the screening that I have in the southwest corner of the pen (mentioned above), I put a water mister across the PVC edge in summer.

When they want shade and the mister is on it is great for them. This cools the area by 25%.

Remember, ALWAYS direct nozzles out so as not to get them wet.

Mister on fence


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* How do I introduce a new adult macropod to a mob?
As with most animals, use caution, especially if you are introducing a female. They are more aggressive to another new female moving in.

You should not have more than 1 male in a mob.

Make a seperate area in the roo pen. This can be put at one side or make a u shaped pen or round pen. Use horse panels or no climb wire. Use metal poles and electrician ties to hold the panels to the poles. Make a temporary gate the same way using a hinge with ties. Put a temporary house or shed in it. I like to use the calf houses. Put water and feed by the fence so the mob and the new mac will begin accepting each other. The new wallaby can get to know the new mob through the fence and visa versa. Keeping the new one in its own pen next to the mob will help them to become familiar and after awhile they can be put together without conflict. This takes about 2 weeks.


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* How do I move a joey outdoors?
If a Joey has been raised in the house and is now being weaned and you are wanting to move him (or her) outdoors, be sure to take things they are used to having and put in the new pen with them. This may be a blanket, or toys, etc. I also hang a pouch in their pen. If they feel threatened they can get in into the pouch. All this gives them a sense of security.

Take them out only during the day at first so they can learn outdoor day sights & sounds. Then take them out a couple of hours in the evenings, just until midnight, so they can learn the outdoor night sounds. The first few days and nights should be handled the same. Soon they can be out 24 hours. They will let you know when they feel secure.

Always make sure the pen is safe and secure for the new one. Keeping the stress down will make a happier transition for all.


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*Anything else I should know?
Never put your feed containers like tall trash cans next to the fence. Feed needs to be in a plastic container and be inside a building.

If you have a double buildings as I do for two pens, put a door with a plastic window inside to go from one pen to another, as well as a gate in the fence by the building to go to between the pens.

Double building for two pens with gate near building to go between pens.

Wallabies are skittish so I suggest putting a radio on low sound to help to drown out sudden noises etc. This does help to sooth them. Mine are used to the TV in the house while being bottle raised, so it is nice for them and gives them a sense of security when a radio is playing.

Hang rubber or plastic feeders on the wall inside. You can do this for water too.

Plastic feed dish hung on wall inside building

A question often asked is: "I live in the city or/and I have a 6 foot wooden fence. Will this work for my macropod?" The same rules still apply. When there is an opening in a pen the Macropod will go under and out they go. If another animal digs under a Mac will use it to get out. If dogs are on the other side, be aware they can climb over or dig under and get in. The bottom line is: MAKE SURE YOUR PENS ARE SAFE AND SECURE! You want to keep your macs from getting injured and you don't want your macs to get out and you don't want other animals to get in.


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