Teeny Tuesday: The Musky Rat-Kangaroo!

Musky Rat-Kangaroo,© 2015 Liz Vitale

Musky Rat-Kangaroo,© 2015 Liz Vitale

Like other ‘roos, the miniscule marsupial Musky Rat Kangaroo is native to Australia. It also exists in New Guinea, and in Australia it can be seen in the northeastern region of Queensland, where it resides in tropical rainforests. The tiniest kangaroo species, in males, the full body length is between 6 and 11 inches, while for females it is usually between 8 and 10 inches.

Kangaroos and possums shared a common ancestor, and while resemblances to possums have disappeared in other kangaroo species, the musky rat-kangaroo has retained certain possum-like features. The tail is scaly and hairless, as well as prehensile, which means that it has the ability to clutch onto objects(but not hang upside down–this is a myth perpetuated by cartoons). The musky rat-kangaroo also has a “big toe” on each back foot. This extra toe enables it to be a stronger tree-climber, although it spends most of its time on the ground in thick vegetation, looking for insects, worms and fallen fruits.

Other features differ it from the rest of the kangaroo family. Instead of hopping on its two back feet, this species of kangaroo travels in an all-fours “bunny hop” movement. Females also give birth to usually two joeys at a time, rather than the usual one. Sometimes even triplets are seen!

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