Wednesday, June 15, 2016


This week we are going to visit kangaroos in trees. Yes, several species of kangaroos live in trees, and they are aptly called Tree Kangaroos. We will discuss tree kangaroos in general, but the important thing to remember as you read is that most species of tree kangaroos are threatened. Some are critically endangered.

Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo (endemic to Australia)

According to my research, kangaroos started out in the trees and came down to the ground. Then at some time in their evolution, a group of them returned to the trees. Essentially they became monkeys with pouches. Umm…  Scientists speculate that the return to the trees was a result of climate change, and therefore the Tree Kangaroo had to develop a different diet, which required climbing trees to get food. Their diet consists of leaves, fruits, and an occasional bird, which also makes them different from their entirely herbivorous ground-dwelling relatives. 

Photo Credit: Minnesota Zoo

While I was in Australia, I was delighted to meet the Golden-Mantled Tree Kangaroo. It is very similar in color to Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo—a beautiful red-gold with a creamy colored underbelly.

Golden-Mantled Tree Kangaroo (Photo credit: Author’s Collection)

The Golden-Mantled Tree Kangaroo is now known to live in the Torricelli range of Papua New Guinea on the island of New Guinea. Unfortunately, the former range of this kangaroo has been depleted by 99% (IUCN). As a result, it is now critically endangered.

Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo

So how are they different from their land-dwelling cousins? Well, the first obvious reason is their choice of habitat. Second, the Tree Kangaroo has developed a very long tail. The tail helps them balance as they amble along in the treetops. You will also notice that they have much longer forearms, they are also thicker and stronger. Their forearms are approximately the same size as their back legs. Both of these differences are adaptations for climbing. The big difference is that the tree kangaroo can move its back legs independently. Ground-dwelling roos do not have this ability.

"The Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo is endemic to the island of New Guinea (Papua New Guinea only), where it occurs in the mid-montane areas of the Central Cordillera. It may have previously occurred in lowland areas. However, it now appears to be extirpated from this part of its range." (IUCN))

Range of the Golden-Mantled Tree Kangaroo – Image credit: Wikipedia

I have found a video, which comes from a tree kangaroo rescue mission in Australia. Two species of kangaroo are endemic to Australia (see the below map). One is the Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo, which is ‘near threatened,’ and the other is Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo. The IUCN classifies Lumholtz’s as ‘least concern,’ but local authorities in Queensland Australia classify it as being 'rare.' In each case, these tree kangaroos are threatened by habitat destruction, dogs, and cars. The video I offer below provides a good look at these two species. I hope you’ll take the time to watch.

For more information about tree kangaroos, check out the sites listed below under citations and resources. As always, my thanks to for their pictures and some of the information.

Image credit:  Flickr User themachobox

Much work is being done to ensure the survival of these wonderful creatures. I am so lucky to have seen them in person, and I sincerely hope that they will thrive in the wild. Thank you for stopping by and for visiting tree kangaroos. Please stop by again, leave a comment, or share my web page with an animal lover you might happen to know.


Jeanne E. Rogers, Author
The Sword of Demelza, The Gift of Sunderland, and
One Hot Mess, a Child’s Environmental Fable
Award Winning Middle-Grade Fantasy, Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!

Citations and references:

One Hot Mess, A Child's Environmental Fable
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