Native to the rainforests of Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, tree kangaroos diverged from their ground-dwelling cousins on the evolutionary tree about five million years ago, and have since adapted to life in the canopy. Unlike normal kangaroos, they’re much smaller, and have arms and legs of a similar length, making them well-adapted for climbing. However, they’re still able to hop between trees and down to the ground when they need to evade danger. As solitary animals, tree kangaroos usually only form social bonds for mating and when a female cares for her young. Joeys typically stay in their mother’s pouch for ten months, and will remain close by for another eight. As they have no threats from other tree-climbing mammals, they usually thrive in their treetop home, feasting on leaves, fruit, flowers and bark. However, human-caused threats, such as hunting and habitat loss, have landed them on the endangered species list.
What makes these curious creatures so good at climbing trees?
Long tail – A long, thick tail helps the tree kangaroos to balance on tree branches.
Shock – absorbent joints – Their limb joints can withstand great leaps from tree to tree.
Wide feet – Claws and foot pads help them to grip onto tree trunks and branches.
Strong forearms – Muscular front limbs make climbing tall trees easier.