The best way to differentiate between the Tree Kangaroo and other Kangaroos in Australia, is the much different look that the Tree Kangaroo has. The Tree Kangaroo lives in Queensland. First discovered in 1882 by a Norwegian naturalist explored, who obtained a number of animals during his short stay in Australia. Known to the Indigenous Australians as 'Boongarry', it is the totem of one of the elders therefore it has special protection amongst this community.
Tree Kangaroos evolved from possums, they have similar jaws and teeth as well as the ability to climb. Later discovered that Wallabies and land dwelling Kangaroos had evolved later then the Tree Kangaroo.
There are nine species of Tree Kangaroos world wide and only twp of these inhabits Australia. These are the Bennetts Tree Kangaroo and the Grizzled Tree Kangaroo.
Both of these species live in the tropical north rain forests of Queensland. Sighting a Tree Kangaroo is unlikely as they have been listed as rare under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act.
Unlike larger land Kangaroos the Tree Kangaroo has a body specially designed for climbing trees, this includes a long pendulous tail, stronger forelimbs, shorter and broader hind feet, curved claws, spongy soles and palms on their paws.
Tree Kangaroos tend to be blackish brown in colouring with lighter sprinkling of colour over the fur. As marsupials they have their joeys prematurely and carry them in their pouch, here they feed on milk. Once weaned as well as being big and strong enough they will enter the out side world.
As herbivores, Tree Kangaroos feast on leaves, flowers and fruit. They will avoid Eucalyptus leaves how ever as these are high in toxic compounds. These animals are territorial and live in groups, located in an area of the rain forest. These territorial groups are known as a 'home range'.
The Tree Kangaroos numbers are decreasing in Australia due to lack of habitat, human influence (cars and domestic animals) as well as natural predators. With only 12% of these Kangaroos living in protected areas. As residential and commercial development increases through out Australia, it is eating up more of the Tree Kangaroos habitat. Not only this, it has been noted that when a Tree Kangaroo is frightened it will freeze and tends to blend in with the environment around it. Due to constant logging in these un protected areas it is suspected that many Tree Kangaroos are being un intentionally killed during this process.
As there are also a large number of Tree Kangaroos being killed on roads, please if you come across a dead animal on the road check their pouch for any joeys. If a live joey is found it will need to be kept warm with blankets and a local Wildlife Rescue will need to be contacted as soon as possible.
With these threats it is no wonder Australian Tree Kangaroo numbers are dropping dramatically, these creatures need as much support and help as they can get.