Tree-kangaroo Fun Facts and Information

Two Tree KangaroosTree-kangaroos live in the tropical forests of New Guinea and far Northeastern Australia. Most of the 14 species of tree-kangaroos are seriously threatened due to habitat destruction and hunting. One species, the Wondiwoi tree-kangaroo, was thought until recently to be extinct.

Tree-kangaroos, as their name suggests, live arboreal lives. They are the only arboreal macropods, a group of marsupials that includes kangaroos (the terrestrial ones), wallabies, and wallaroos. On the ground, tree-kangaroos are slow and clumsy. In the treetops, they are agile and strong. Jumps of 30 feet downwards from one tree to another have been recorded.

 

Two Tree-Kangaroos in TreeAt one time, the arboreal lifestyle of tree-kangaroos wasn’t unusual. It is believed that the ancestor of all macropods living today was arboreal. It was only when the rainforests of Australia and New Guinea began to dry out that the ancestor descended from the trees and adapted to rocky environments and grazing. As the rainforests in the region became smaller and isolated, the ancestor of tree-kangaroos could have remained in the treetops and become highly specialized to life in trees.

Compared to terrestrial kangaroos, tree-kangaroos are quite small. Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo, the smallest species, have a body length of around two feet, not counting the tail (an additional two feet). Tree-kangaroos have longer and broader hind feet than terrestrial kangaroos, with a spongy grip on their paws and feet. Their tails are also larger than terrestrial kangaroos’, giving them better balance while in the treetops.

 

Mother and Baby Tree-KangaroosThe diet of tree-kangaroos is mostly comprised of what can be gathered from the treetops, such as leaves, fruit, sap, and bark. They sometimes will forage from the ground, eating food like grains. Although in the wild tree-kangaroos are herbivores, some captive tree-kangaroos have become omnivores, eating birds, snakes, and eggs. In the wild, tree-kangaroos have to fear snakes, as the amethystine python is their natural predator. Tree-kangaroos also fall prey to feral dogs.

Not much is known about tree-kangaroos breeding or offspring. They mate in the trees during monsoons and produce only one joey at a time. The joey spends about nine months in the pouch and an additional eight or nine months until they are finished being weaned.

If tree-kangaroos interested you, be sure to check out our blog post about fun marsupial facts!

 

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