Musky Rat-Kangaroo

Musky Rat-Kangaroo

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Infraclass
Suborder
SPECIES
Hypsiprymnodon moschatus
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
4 yrs
WEIGHT
332-680 g
LENGTH
21-34 cm

The smallest macropodids, this marsupial resembles a small kangaroo. The Musky rat-kangaroo moves around by slow "bunny-hop" movement. An important identifying feature of this animal is its hind feet, having 5 toes.

Distibution

These kangaroos occur in tropical rainforest in the north-eastern Queensland (Australia), where they inhabit areas with dense vegetation around lakes and streams.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo habitat map

Geography

Continents
Countries

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Due to their shyness and quickness, these kangaroos are extremely difficult to spot and observe in the wild. Musky rat-kangaroos are generally solitary, although they are known to feed in small groups of 2 - 3 individuals. These diurnal animals sleep in their nests, typically made between the plank buttresses of a large tree or in a clump of Lawyer Vine. When constructing their nests, Musky rat-kangaroos collect nesting material (e.g. ferns, lichens and dried grass) with their tails. When running, they use all of their four limbs, as opposed to other macropods, hopping on their hind feet. According to an observation, these kangaroos may sunbathe on fallen logs. They have also been seen in trees, suggesting they are good climbers.

Diet and Nutrition

Musky rat-kangaroo are primarily insectivorous. Their diet consists of insects and worms, complemented with fruits, seeds, tuberous roots and palm berries.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
February-July
PREGNANCY DURATION
19 days
BABY CARRYING
2 joyes
INDEPENDENT AGE
21 weeks
BABY NAME
joey

Little is known about the mating and reproductive behavior of Musky rat-kangaroos, due to their elusive behavior. However, they are known to breed from February to July. Like in other kangaroos, gestation period lasts for 19 days, yielding 2 young. Newborn babies live in the pouch of their mother for 21 weeks, after which they come out of the pouch, remaining in the nest for additional several weeks. Females of this species reach sexual maturity after one year old.

Population

Population threats

In course of time, these kangaroos have lost a big part of their original range, especially in the coastal lowlands, where their rainforest habitat has been turned to agricultural and pastoral areas. Currently, there are no notable threats to the population of Musky rat-kangaroos. However, the animals are thought to be hunted by feral cats and dogs. They may also suffer from clearing of rainforest, which is their natural habitat.

Population number

According to IUCN, the Musky rat-kangaroo is common across its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC), and its numbers are stable.

Ecological niche

Feeding upon vegetation, Musky rat-kangaroos serve as key seed dispersers of the rainforest ecosystem, enhancing regeneration of various plants.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Musky rat-kangaroo is the smallest and, morphologically the most primitive, member of the kangaroo family. The species represents the earliest evolutionary stage, being a link between ancestral arboreal opossum and macropods.
  • This animal is one of the few truly diurnal kangaroo species in Australia.
  • Musky rat-kangaroos are distinguished from other kangaroos due to their unusual, scaly tail. In addition, they have a well-developed, clawless and nonopposable first digit on each of their hind feet, while other species of their genus do not have a first digit at all.
  • These animals are so called due to giving off a musky scent.
  • The Musky rat-kangaroo moves around by hopping on all four limbs like a bunny, while other kangaroos typically use only two legs. The animal gallops by pushing its hind limbs in front outside the shorter fore limbs.

References

1. Musky Rat-Kangaroo Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musky_rat-kangaroo
2. Musky Rat-Kangaroo on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/40559/0

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