Faecal corticosteroid levels as an indicator of well-being in the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii

S. McKenzie, E. M. Deane*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Faecal corticosteroid levels were measured in five female tammar wallabies, Macropus eugenii, at Macquarie University, NSW, Australia, to assess their reliability as indicators of well-being in this species. Animals were challenged with a change in conditions over the course of approximately 1 week, comprising movement from group yards to isolation in individual yards, in order to impose a disturbance to homeostasis ("stress"). Faecal samples were collected in 24-h intervals during the study period and analysed for corticosteroid concentration. The use of enzyme immunoassay for the measurement of corticosteroids in marsupial faecal pellets was validated. We observed a significant increase in faecal corticosteroids upon isolation and movement. Faecal corticosteroids remained above initial levels in all five animals throughout the study period, suggesting that faecal corticosteroid concentrations may be a useful indicator of a change in animal well-being. Faecal corticosteroid levels did not correlate with serum cortisol levels, implying that the use of noninvasive methods in a representative marsupial, the tammar wallaby, has the potential to provide information that is not readily apparent using blood-based protocols. Faecal corticosteroid analysis therefore has the potential for application in monitoring the well-being of captive and managed marsupial populations, as part of an integrated system of measures of animal health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-87
Number of pages7
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005


  • Cortisol
  • Faecal corticosteroids
  • Marsupials
  • Stress
  • Tammar wallaby


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