Summer 2004
Marsupial of the Season

 

Tree Kangaroos

 Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo
(Dendrolagus lumholtzi)

General:     Dendrolagus is derived from the Greek, dendron, tree; and lagos, hare.    lumholtzi is named after C. Lumholtzi, a Norwegian naturalist who collected specimens from which the species was named.   It is also know the Boongarry and the Tree Climber.

Like most marsupials, Tree-Kangaroos are nocturnal and spend most of the day asleep high in the crown of a tree.  When searching for food, they climb using their strong claws to grip the branches, moving their legs independently.  Tree-Kangaroos have the ability to hop from branch to branch as well as climb.  They usually descend trees backwards, with the tail first, and can jump to the ground from as high as two metres.

When on the ground, Tree-Kangaroos can walk and run using all four legs, or hop with the forelegs tucked in to the chest, and the tail held out stiffly behind and at the first sign of danger, they will quickly disappear up the nearest tree.

Habitat and Distribution:        Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo (D. lumholtzi) inhabits the mountainous tableland and tropical rainforest areas of north-eastern Queensland.  They are common within their range but their range is limited and under threat from logging.

Description: Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo (D. lumholtzi) is blackish-brown in colour, with lighter flecking across the rump area, and a long tail (not prehensile), with a thick bushy part at the tip.  They have a pale coloured stripe that runs across the forehead, and down the sides of the face and the front paws are short and black in colour, with an opposing first digit.

They are solidly built, with strong, muscular limbs, well suited to climbing.  The soles of the paws are rough, and the claws are strong and curved.    They are much smaller than the Bennett’s Tree-Kangaroo (D. benettianus) and have a head and body length of 48 to 59cm, with the tail being between 60 to 75cm.  Tree-Kangaroos can weigh from 3.5kg to 10kg.  Males are noticeably larger than females.

Breeding:  It is believed that they will breed at any time during the year and the male will follow the female around making soft clucking sounds.    Although the female has four teats in her pouch only one young will be born which will then attach itself to one of the teats that has become enlarged ready to accept the newborn.    They appear to move around in groups of a number of females and a single male.   Should another male appear on the scene they will fight savagely. if kept together, and make soft clucking sounds during the mating season.

Diet:  Tree-Kangaroos live on leaves, fruits and berries, collected from the trees in which they spend most of their time.

Bennett’s Tree-Kangaroo
(Dendrolagus benettianus)

General:     Dendrolagus is derived from the Greek, dendron, tree; and lagos, hare.    benettianus is named after G. Bennett, the first curator of the Australian Museum.   It is also know locally as the Grey Tree kangaroo, Tree Climber and Jarabeena.

Bennett’s Tree-Kangaroos (D. benettianus) are usually solitary creatures, but have been seen in family groups of up to three individuals - male, female and one young.  They make a growling sound when alarmed and call the young with a soft trumpeting sound.

Distribution:         They inhabit the mountainous tableland and tropical rainforest areas of north-eastern Queensland.  They have also been seen in areas of open forest but their range is very limited and their habitat is under the constant threat of logging.    Their status in the wild is classed as vulnerable.

Description:          It is dark brown in colour, with a lighter fawn underside, and rusty brownish neck and shoulder area.    Like the Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo (D. lumholtzi), they have a long tail (not prehensile), with a thick bushy part at the tip.  They have a greyish coloured forehead and muzzle, with the paws and base of tail black and their forepaws have an opposing first digit.

Tree-Kangaroos are solidly built, with strong, muscular limbs, well suited to climbing.   The soles of the paws are rough, and the claws are strong and curved.

Bennett’s Tree-Kangaroo (D. benettianus) has a head and body length of 50 to 65cm, with the tail of up to just under a metre for males and about two thirds of that for the females.   They can weigh up to 13kg with the males noticeably larger than females.

Breeding:    Little is known about the breeding cycle of the Tree-Kangaroo.  It is believed that they breed at any time during the year, and give birth to one young each time with the young leaving the pouch in August.

Diet:            Tree-Kangaroos live on a diet that consists mainly of leaves, supplemented with fruits and berries.

References

Strahan, Ronald (1983) edited by “The Complete Book of Australian Mammals” published by Angus & Robertson.

Cayley, Neville (1987) “What Animal is That” published by Angus & Robertson

Troughton, Ellis (1973) “Troughton’s Furred Animals of Australia” published by Angus & Robertson.

Cronin, Leonard  (1991) “Key Guide to Australian Mammals”.  National Library of Australia,

Morecombe, Irene and Micheal (1979) “Australian Mammals In Colour” published by A.H. & A.W. Reed Pty Ltd,

 
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