Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo: tree climbing kangaroos?

Name: Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo or Boongarry (Dendrolagus lumholtzi)

Size: Weight 5-8.5kg; males average 7.5kg, females 6.0kg.

Diet: Herbivore.

Habitat/range: Wet tropical rainforests and cloud forests of north-eastern Australia.

Conservation status: Near threatened.

Superpower: The Tarzan of Australian mammals.

Lumholtz tree-kangaroo
Credit: Scott Baker, no rights reserved.

Something you would perhaps not imagine a kangaroo doing, would be climbing a tree! With their big back legs adapted for hopping, and their typically much smaller arms, kangaroos are about as specialised for efficient bipedal hopping on the ground as you can get.

But Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo is exactly that: a kangaroo that has evolved to climb trees. Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo is a remarkable marsupial found in the wet tropical rainforests and cloud forests of north-eastern Australia. This furry creature boasts a stocky and robust body, and a long heavy tail for balance, with dark grey to black woolly fur that blends perfectly in its forest home.

With its strong limbs, relatively short feet, flexible ankles and sharp claws, Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo is a skilled climber, perfectly adapted for life among the treetops. It can gracefully traverse the branches, using its muscular legs and powerful arms for a range of different movements including walking on two or four paws, forwards, backwards and sideways. They can even manage a suspended arm crawl under a branch, Tarzan style, and occasionally make a flamboyant and thunderous crash to ground to make an escape.

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When it comes to food, Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo is a herbivore with a taste for leaves, fruits, flowers, and bark. It enjoys a diverse diet, feasting on various tree species like eucalyptus and figs.

Lumholtz tree-kangaroo.
Lumholtz tree-kangaroo at the Tree-Roo Rescue and Conservation Centre. Credit: Natalie Warburton.

In terms of behaviour, Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo tends to be a solitary creature. Males and females establish separate territories and are primarily active during the night when they search for food. During the day, you’ll often find them curled up on branches or nestled in tree forks, enjoying a peaceful snooze.

There are 10 species of tree-kangaroos, two in Australia and the remainder in Papua New Guinea. Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo conservation status is classified as Near Threatened and it faces challenges from habitat loss due to deforestation and the potential threats posed by introduced predators like feral dogs and cats.

This unique marsupial not only plays a vital role in the rainforest ecosystem, but it also has cultural significance among the Indigenous peoples of the region.

Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo truly stands out as a fascinating and extraordinary mammal, perfectly adapted for a life high among the trees. Its conservation is crucial for preserving Australia’s rainforests and honouring the cultural heritage of the land.

So why not vote for a tree-kangaroo – the Tarzan of Australian mammals.

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