In the heart of Cairns, there’s an animal that you’ve probably never heard of, let alone seen. Tree Kangaroos are mostly found in the tropical rainforest region of Queensland, where the lush canopies provide the perfect habitat for these nocturnal creatures. You’re likely to find these smaller native Australian marsupials in the Atherton Tablelands, where they are simply known by their Aboriginal name, Mabi.
Tree Kangaroos live high up in the tree tops, hopping like normal kangaroos along larger branches they encounter. Their diet consists of leaves and shrubs that can be found in the rainforest region. For most of the day, they perch up in their trees resting, only coming out at night to eat and explore, but even then, they don’t go far. In fact, only 10% of their time is spent moving around. For the other 90%, they rest and chill out.
When it comes to mating, tree kangaroos produce one joey at a time who remains in the mother’s marsupial pouch for around 230 days before venturing out into the world on its own.
There are two common types of tree kangaroo in Queensland – Bennett’s and Lumholtz’s. Both breeds boast a similar colouring, which is a deep copper shade. The best way to tell them apart is by their size – the Lumholtz’s are smaller and weigh just 7 kilos, while the Bennetts weigh a little more at 16 kilos. Despite their larger size, the Bennett kangaroos are considerably more agile, and can jump from tree branches that are 9 metres down.
To balance, they use their big bushy tails to wrap around branches.
Queensland’s tree kangaroos are weird and wonderful creatures. Though they are very different to their land-based counterparts, they still retain many of the unique features of kangaroos, with their long tails, the ability to hop high in the air, and their means for mating and bringing up their young.
What’s more, these creatures are only found in a very small part of Australia, making a sighting of them that much more exciting. When you’re in and around Cairns, wandering through the rainforest, and exploring the Atherton Tablelands, keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of these cute critters who spend most of their time hidden away up tall, mighty trees.
The best time to see them is at night with the help of a torch, as this is the time when they’re most active.