Papua New Guinea
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Scherrie Johnson (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.
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.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
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 biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
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.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
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/