Tree Kangaroo Facts
- Firstly, the term Tree Kangaroo serves as the collective common name for about 12 separate species in the genus Dendrolagus. The uncertainty about the number of member species arises from differences of opinion regarding classification among scientists.
- Further, all members of this remarkable genus have one outstanding trait in common. That’s because the various species in the genus actually evolved as arboreal creatures. In addition, this group or remarkable animals remains the only known arboreal macropods.
- Individuals of the various species all typically remain very slow and clumsy on the ground. Additionally, the surprising mammal moves haltingly, and hops awkwardly. However, in the trees, it actually appears to be extremely agile and a surprisingly effective climber.
- This fantastic creature also ranks as an amazingly powerful leaper, much like its terrestrial counterparts. It has been seen to jump as much as 30 ft (9 m) from one limb to another. In addition, it can also jump to the ground from as high as 59 ft (18 m) without incurring injury.
- Quite unfortunately, the IUCN currently lists the majority of known members in this incredible genus as Threatened. This listing appears in its Red List of Threatened Species. The reasons for this include habitat loss and hunting. But, the Tree Kangaroo also now faces the danger of climate change.
Tree Kangaroo Physical Description
The truly astonishing Tree Kangaroo continues to amaze us. That’s partly due to the fact that the animal evolved several adaptations extremely useful for an arboreal life. For one thing, its back legs grow significantly broader and shorter than those of its terrestrial cousins. This provides better balance.
Furthermore, the incredible creature also possesses quite long, and extensively curved nails on those rear legs. However, these serve a far more important purpose than mere aesthetics. That because the magnificent mammal routinely, and quite effectively, uses these for gripping and climbing.
But the differences between it and related species does not end there. That’s due to the fact that the Tree Kangaroo also has a much broader and longer tail than a terrestrial kangaroo. This evolutionary divergence provides the fascinating animal with an enhanced balance while moving through the canopy.
In addition, much like terrestrial kangaroos, it remains physically incapable of sweating, to cool its body. Nevertheless, the mammal developed an alternate method of thermo-regulation. That’s because, instead of sweating, it licks its forearms and allows the moisture to evaporate, thereby cooling it.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Diprotodontia
- Family: Macropodidae
- Genus: Dendrolagus
Tree Kangaroo Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Unfortunately, the only known forms of the surprising Tree Kangaroo inhabit a highly restricted and vulnerable region of the world. This consists primarily of the rainforest regions of New Guinea, parts of Queensland, Australia. However, the majestic creature does also appear on a few local islands.
Yet, within this range, the various species within the genus understandably have different habitat preferences. First of all, the majority of the different species in the genus prefer to live in montane areas. Secondly, though, there nevertheless remain several varieties that prefer to dwell in lowland areas.
In addition, this stunning animal has even more specific habitat requirements. That’s because of the fact that it thrives in treetops, instead of the ground like its genetic cousins. Also, the reason it somehow managed to adapt better to regions of high altitude than its terrestrial cousins remains a mystery.
The animal also breeds during the monsoon season. Tree Kangaroo matings produce only one young per litter. Its primary predator seems to be the amethystine python, which also inhabits the same canopies. Also, being herbivorous in nature, its own diet consists principally of fruits and leaves.