Dendrolagus goodfellowiGoodfellow's tree kangaroo

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Geographic Range

Papua New Guinea

Habitat

Dense tropical forests from sea level to nearly 10,000 feet in altitude are home to the tree kangaroo. They primarly live in trees or closed forest areas over mountainous ranges. They are restricted to the rainforest.

Physical Description

Body Length 1.8-2.6ft; 55-77cm Tail Length 2.3-2.8ft; 70-84.5cm

The slender bodies of the tree kangaroo have short fur that is usually woolly and is colored chestnut brown or red-brown to crimson. They have double longitudinal stripes on the back and a paler belly. The tail has light spots or rings, and the feet are yellow. The face is gray-brown and the neck and cheeks are often yellow. Tree kangaroos also have a vortex of hair in the middle of their back.

  • Average mass
    7400 g
    260.79 oz
    AnAge

Reproduction

All female kangaroos have a well-developed pouch that opens forward and contains four teats. The gestation period is 21 to 38 days. As a rule, there is one young per birth. The average reproduction rate is slightly higher than one young per year. The unpredictable rate of reproduction is due to the irregularly changing weather conditions in their habitat. A few hours before parturition, the mother begins to clean the pouch by licking it thoroughly. Finaly, she sits down with her tail brought forward between her legs and squats with her back rounded. The single newborn emerges from the cloaca, rupturing the fetal membranes in the process, and climbs into the pouch with no assistance from its mother, where it grows for the next ten to twelve months. A joey continuse to nurse for several months after permanently leaving the pouch, returning frequently to its mother for milk, which it obtains only from "its own" teat.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring
    1
    AnAge
  • Average gestation period
    45 days
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    23.6 years
    AnAge

Behavior

These arboreal animals have powerful arms, comparatively short hind legs, and long, curved claws. They are unable to move more than two "kangroo hops" in succession. They usually take little hopping steps, in which the two forelegs and the two hind legs alternately touch the ground. Members of this species also hold their tails off the ground. Most tree kangaroos appear to be solitary. Females maintain a territory of a few acres, while males have larger territories which overlap those of several females.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Tree kangaroos emerge at night to feed from the leaves of the Silkwood, a range of fruits, and even cereals along the forest edges. Large quantities of low-nutrient value leaves are ingested. They also eat flowers and grass, which are digested in their sacculated stomachs by fermenting bacteria.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

none noted

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

none noted

Conservation Status

Much of the original rainforest habit has been destroyed by the extensive clearing of lowland rainforest. Those tree kangaroos still suriving in highland forest have had to contend with logging operations which markedly limit their distribution. Their survival seems to have only been assured by the reasonable numbers in National Parks and reserves and also by the almost complete absence of any large tree-climbing predators or competitors. Goodfollow's tree kangaroos are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, and there are no accurate estimates of the number of each species which survives in the wild. They are primarily threatened by hunting for meat and habitat destruction from logging, mining, oil exploration, and agriculture.

Other Comments

WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP? Adequate protection of their habitat by the formation of National Parks. Pressure also needs to be placed on the multi-national companies destroying the GoodFellow's Tree Kangaroo in Papua Guinea.

Contributors

Scherrie Johnson (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

References

Mueller, F. Heinz, Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals Vol 1, Mc Graw-Hill Publishing Co., New York.

Currumbin Sanctuary http://www.cyberdata.com.au/currumbin

Cyberdata Magazine http://www.cyberdata.com.au/

Netscape: http://www.aza.org/aza/ssp/trekang.html