Matschies Tree Kangaroo Fact File
The matschies tree kangaroo weighs an average of 7.5kg (16.5lbs) for males and 6kg (13.2lbs) for females. They have a body which measures 66cm (26in) for males and 63cm (24.8in) for females. The tail doubles the length of the body. The tail is used for balance in the trees.
The body is chestnut brown with a black stripe running the length of their back. Their colour comes from tannins in the leaves they eat. It is covered in dense fur. The lower portions of their limbs, the underbelly, the face and the tail are golden in colour. The nose is pink.
Their feet have sharp claws which allow them to hang on to trees which they climb.
The matschies tree kangaroo is a herbivore. They live on a diet primarily consisting of leaves. They will also eat flowers, saps, fruit, insects, buds, flowers and nuts.
In captivity this species has been fed some meat which they have eaten. Currently this is not considered to be part of their natural diet. They also have been noticed to lose coat condition in captivity. This is fixed by feeding them tea leaves or maize.
The matschies tree kangaroo is only found on the Huon peninsula in Papua New Guinea and Umboi a nearby island.
They live in tropical deciduous forest and tropical rainforests. They maintain a home range which covers up to 25 hectares (62 acres).
Their habitat is under threat from logging including for the exploration of mineral deposits.
Wild 14 years
Captive 20 years
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Matschies tree kangaroos have no set breeding season. They are a marsupial and as such young are raised in a pouch.
The female will initiate contact by coming down to the male and touching his nose as well as clicking their tongues. She will avoid his advances to begin with but will then become receptive. After she submits they can mate for up to an hour.
Communication is primarily achieved through chemical cues but they will vocalise as well.
The gestation period is 44 days which is the longest of any marsupial. A single young is born pink and hairless which crawls up into the pouch to attach to one of the four teats. They will spend the next 3 months attached to the nipple.
After about 6 months they will stick the head out of the pouch. By 7 months they take their first outing and by 10 months they are living outside of the pouch permanently.
These tree kangaroos reach sexual maturity at 2 years of age.
The matschies tree kangaroo will spend the majority of its day sleeping as they can gain most of the energy they need in a couple of hours of foraging.
They are a solitary species and only come together for breeding. The home range of the male and female will not overlap though males on occasion tolerate others in their’s.
Relatively few predators of the matschies tree kangaroo are know. It is know they are hunted by humans and large birds of prey.
These tree kangaroos do not sweat. Instead they will lick their arms and allow the moisture to evaporate which cools their body.
The matschies tree kangaroo can jump to the floor from a height of 10m (32ft) and can leap 9m (29ft) between trees.
These kangaroos are named after the person who discovered them-the German biologist, Paul Matschie.
Their secondary common name is the Huon tree kangaroo.
Their name comes from greek words which translate to “Tree hare”
Unlike other kangaroos they have forearms and back legs which are the same length.
Locals refer to the matschies tree kangaroo as the ‘ghost of the forest’ due to them being incredibly hard to find in the forest.
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1999. “Dendrolagus matschiei” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed May 18, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Dendrolagus_matschiei/
Ziembicki, M. & Porolak, G. 2016. Dendrolagus matschiei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T6433A21956650. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T6433A21956650.en. Downloaded on 18 May 2020.
Saint Louis Zoo. 2020. Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo. [online] Available at: <https://www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/mammals/pouchedmammals/matschiestreekangaroohttps://www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/mammals/pouchedmammals/matschiestreekangaroo> [Accessed 18 May 2020].
Animals.sandiegozoo.org. 2020. Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants. [online] Available at: <https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/matschies-tree-kangaroo> [Accessed 18 May 2020].
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