Wildlife in Australia stand out for what we find on other continents,
with many species that is found only
here. One exampel is - no, not the kangaroo, most people know about
that animal, but have you ever heard
about the tree-kangaroo? No? Neither had the zoologists sent out from
the Zoological Museom of the University
in Oslo, Norway. When they saw kangaroos climbing in the trees, they
had to pinch their arms, to see if they
were awake or just dreaming. .
photo by P. Chevalier ©
Kangaroos and wallabies are marsupials that belong to a small
group of animals called macropods.
They are only found naturally in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Most macropods have hind legs
larger than their forelimbs, large hind feet, and long muscular
tails which they use for balance.
The word macropod actually means 'big foot'. Kangaroos and wallabies
are most active at night,
dusk and dawn.
All kangaroos and wallabies have forward-opening
pouches. Other marsupials - wombats and koalas -
have pouches that open backwards.
The kangaroo superfamily consists of two family
groups. Kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons and
tree kangaroos make up one family, while rat-kangaroos,
bettongs and potoroos make up the other.
There are 45 species of kangaroos and wallabies.
Where do they live?
Kangaroos and wallabies live just about everywhere!
Red kangaroos are found on the flat open plains
Grey kangaroos overlap the reds but prefer denser scrubs and
Wallaroos have an extensive range throughout the inland, but
prefer rocky outcrops or stony ground.
Rock-wallabies live among piles of boulders, rocky hills and
Tree-kangaroos are found in the mountainous rainforests
of north Queensland and New Guinea.
Smaller species of wallabies and kangaroos live in a wide range
of habitats, from desert to woodland
Tree-kangaroo, Dendrolagus bennettianus
at Mt Poverty, Queensland, Australia, in October 2006
Photo: Sandra Lloyd,
Bennett's Tree-kangaroo, or Dendrolagus bennettianus, is a large
Males can weigh from 11.5 kg up to almost 14 kg (25 to 31 lbs),
while the females range between
about 8 to 10.6 kg (17.6 to 23 lbs). They are very agile and
are able to leap 9 metres (30 ft) down to
another branch and have been known to drop as far as 18 metres
(59 ft) to the ground without injury.
Tree-kangaroos are macropods
adapted for life in trees. They are found in the rainforests of New
far northeastern Queensland, and nearby islands. Although most are
found in mountainous areas, several
species also occur in lowlands, such as the aptly named Lowlands Tree-kangaroo.
Most tree-kangaroos are
considered threatened due to hunting and habitat loss.
There are approximately 12 species
of tree-kangaroos, though some uncertainty exists due to taxonomy.
Depending on species, there are significant variations in the colour
of the pelage and size, with a head and body
length of 41 to 77 centimetres (16 to 30 in), a tail length of 40
to 87 centimetres (16 to 34 in), and a weight
of up to 14.5 kilograms (32 lb). Females are smaller than males.
Matschie's tree kangaroo, Dendrolagus matschiei
tree kangaroo, Dendrolagus matschiei
Photo: W. Guy Finley
The Matschie's tree kangaroo, Dendrolagus matschiei,
is endemic to the Huon Peninsula on the
northeast coast of Papua New Guinea. It is classified by the
International Union for the Conservation
of Nature (IUCN) 2004 Red List as endangered.
Matschie's tree kangaroos live in mountainous
cloud forests at elevations of up to 11,000 feet
(3,350 meters). They spend most of their time in trees. Tree
kangaroos primarily eat tree leaves.
They also consume flowers, grass shoots, ferns, moss, and bark.
Average life span in captivity:Up to 20 years
Size:37 to 70 in (94 to 179 cm)
Weight:Adults: 15 to 22 pounds (7 to 10 kg)
Text above: Woodland Park Zoo
tree kangaroo, Dendrolagus matschiei - Overview
BBC Natural History Unit
Tree-kangaroos are slow and
clumsy on the ground. They move at about walking pace and hop awkwardly,
leaning their body far forward to balance the heavy tail. But in trees
they are bold and agile.
They climb by wrapping the forelimbs around the back of a tree and
hopping with the powerful hind legs,
allowing the forelimbs to slide. They are expert leapers; 9 metres
(30 ft) downward jumps from one tree
to another have been recorded, and they have the extraordinary ability
to jump to the ground from 18 metres
(59 ft) or more without being hurt.
Goodfellow's Tree Kangaroo, Dendrolagus goodfellowi
Goodfellow's Tree-kangaroo with joey in pouch.
Photo: Tim Williams
Goodfellow's Tree-kangaroos, Dendrolagus goodfellowi
have short, woolly chestnut brown fur,
with pale belly. Their neck, cheeks, and feet are yellow. The
face is greyish-brown, with a double
golden stripe running down their back. Tree-kangaroos have long,
strong forelimbs and shortened,
broad hind feet. They walk along branches or climb, using each
of their limbs independently.
The size is 60cm with tail about 1m long
Other Names: Ornate Tree Kangaroo
tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi
BBC Natural History Unit
Tree-kangaroos feed mostly on
leaves and fruit, taken both in trees and on the ground, but other
eaten when available, including grain, flowers, sap, bark, eggs and
Their teeth are adapted for tearing leaves rather than cutting grass.
They have large stomachs that function
as fermentation vats in a manner similar to those of eutherian ruminant
herbivores, in which bacteria break
down fibrous leaves and grasses. Although the arrangement of the stomach
compartments in kangaroos is
quite different than eutherian ruminants, the end result is similar.
Most text above from Wikipedia
Tree-kangaroo, Dendrolagus lumholtzi
Photo: Maria Pesavento
|N & W New Guinea, island of Yapen, and possibly
Salawati and Waigeo.
Black tree kangaroo
|Vogelkop, New Guinea.
Huon tree kangaroo
|Huon Peninsula, New Guinea.
heaviest tree-dwelling marsupial
|W, central, and SE New Guinea
| highlands of west-central New Guinea
|central and southeastern New Guinea.
| Dendrolagus goodfellowi buergersi
|Foja and Torricelli Mountains, New Guinea.
|SW lowlands of Papua New Guinea
Discovered as recently as 1994,
|highlands of west-central New Guinea
|Tenkile, Scotts tree kangaroo
|Sandaun Province, New Guinea.