Matschie's Tree-Kangaroo

Matschie's Tree-Kangaroo

Huon tree-kangaroo

Dendrolagus matschiei
Population size
Life Span
14-20 yrs
21 km/h
7-11 kg
51-81 cm

Matschie’s tree-kangaroo is one of 13 species of tree-kangaroo. As arboreal animal, it spends most of its time in trees. When hopping and walking, the animal moves its limbs alternately, as opposed to other kangaroos. The forelimbs are strong and powerful, and the hind limbs are independent, making the animal an excellent climber. The animal has rubbery pads on its feet, and the claws are curved, providing good traction and allowing the kangaroo to easily grasp objects.


Huon Peninsula (Papua New Guinea) and the nearby island of Umboi (where the animal is considered to be introduced) are the only areas, where this kangaroo is endemic to. The preferred habitat of the Matschie’s tree-kangaroo is mountainous tropical deciduous and tropical rainforest.

Matschie's Tree-Kangaroo habitat map



Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Matschie’s tree-kangaroo is a solitary animal, which ignores conspecifics even in the same tree. Both males and females have their own territories, while these of males are usually larger, overlapping with territories of several females and increasing their opportunities of breeding. These arboreal animals spend the greater part of their time in trees, sometimes coming to the ground in order to feed. Matschie's tree-kangaroos can be active both by day and night. When on the ground, these animals are extremely slow and clumsy. When in the trees, they are considerably nimbler; good climbers and jumpers, they easily leap from branch to branch. However, these kangaroos spend about 60% of their time sleeping. They usually fall asleep in any tree they happen to be. They sense the environment through their vision, touch, smell, and hearing. Matschie’s tree-kangaroos communicate with each other primarily through chemical cues as well as visual displays, touch and vocalizations.

Diet and Nutrition

Primarily a folivorous animal, this kangaroo favors mature leaves, complementing its diet with wild fruits, flowers, nuts, bark, sap, insects, bird eggs as well as young birds.

Mating Habits

39-45 days
1 joey
350 days
jill, roo
jack, boomer

Matschie’s tree-kangaroos have polygynandrous (promiscuous) mating system, where both sexes mate with multiple mates. They breed at any time of year and have the longest gestation period for a marsupial, lasting for 39 - 45 days. Female gives birth to a single baby, which crawls into the pouch of its mother, remaining there for around 90 - 100 days. By 300 days old, the young first comes out of the mother's pouch, after which it continues to return in order to nurse. Finally, by the age of 350 days, the joey is completely independent of the pouch. The weaned joey leaves its mother and establishes a territory of its own. Sexual maturity is reached with 2 - 2.5 years old.


Population threats

Currently, Matschie’s tree-kangaroo greatly suffers from destruction of its natural habitat from logging. The animal is threatened by mining and oil operations. And finally, the succulent meat of this species attracts aboriginal people of Papua New Guinea, who hunt this animal, posing a serious threat to its survival.

Population number

The overall population number of the Matschie’s tree-kangaroo is not known, according to the IUCN Red List. However, considering low population density of this kangaroo, the highest number of mature individuals can hardly be more than 2,500 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Endangered (EN), and its numbers are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Matschie’s tree-kangaroo is named after Paul Matschie, a German zoologist who discovered this animal along with several other species of tree-kangaroo.
  • When climbing down from a tree, these animals always back down, as opposed to opossums which may also go down head-first.
  • In order to climb a tree, the animal typically springs up 2-3 feet, wrapping its arms around the tree while the feet point against the tree, after which the kangaroo climbs by sliding and feet hopping.
  • They can also come down form a tree by leaping, jumping up to 18 meters down without any harm.
  • All species of kangaroo are thought to originate from small arboreal animals, which came down to the ground, developing bodies that were suitable for fast movement on the ground. Then tree-kangaroos returned to the trees in order to exploit an under-used niche.
  • As common in macropods, to cool off in hot weather, these animals use licks rather than sweating: they lick their forearms. Then the moisture evaporates, cooling their body.


1. Matschie's Tree-Kangaroo Wikipedia article -
2. Matschie's Tree-Kangaroo on The IUCN Red List site -

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About