Critter of the Week: Matschie's Tree Kangaroo


Photo By: Lisa Dabek



Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Infraclass: Marsupialia

Order: Diprotodontia

Family: Macropodidae

Genius: Dendrolagus

Species: Dendrolagus Matchiei




Matschie's tree kangaroos live in the rain forests of Papua New Guinea at elevations up to 10,000 feet! These tree-dwelling marsupials can grow anywhere from 1.5-2.5 feet tall and weigh 15-25 pounds. The tree kangaroos are incredible as all marsupials once lived in the trees until they developed into ground-dwellers. The tree kangaroos are the only ones to have moved back up into the trees.






In the rain forests, the temperature can fluctuate rapidly and it gets pretty warm. Since the Matschie’s tree kangaroo doesn’t sweat, it will lick its forearms and let the evaporation cool its body. This tree kangaroo is also able to comfortably live in this environment from its metabolic rate.

 The Matschie’s tree kangaroo has curved claws and spongy pads on its back feet to help it climb trees. Using its long tail for balance, the tree kangaroo can leap 30 feet between trees, and drop up to 60 feet to the ground without being harmed. Interestingly, the Matschie’s tree kangaroo always climbs down trees tail-first as opposed to animals like the opossum that go down head-first.





Female Matschie’s tree kangaroos give birth to one offspring, called a joey, after a little over a month of gestation. Once the joey is born, it has to crawl and pull itself into the pouch. It stays in the pouch for 10 months, which is when the most development will occur. Throughout this time of the joey being in the pouch, the mother will clean the pouch and groom the joey often.





The joeys are weaned when they are about 13-months-old. At 18 months, they will leave their mothers to establish their own territory. A male Matschie’s tree kangaroo will have a territory that may overlap with some females’ territories but never with another male’s.