Presenting Tree-Kangaroos, The Cuddliest Animal On The Verge Of Extinction

The animal kingdom is full of adorable and bizarre animals that most people have never heard of. Hidden in some of the most remote regions of the world, these rare animals try to live their lives as far away from human beings as possible. Take the endangered tree-kangaroo, a lovable critter that is just one of nature's many cute marsupials. These charming animals are almost too cool to be real, but they exist and the world is better for it. 

Most people would have to travel around the world to see tree-kangaroos in the wild, but the Internet is bringing them a level of attention that this species has never before experienced. The more we learn about them, the easier it becomes to share amazing facts about these marsupials that will help ensure their survival. Only increased awareness of tree-kangaroos and the problems they are suffering at the hands of humans will prevent these animals from going extinct.


  • They're Sadly Threatened By Human Behavior

    They're Sadly Threatened By Human Behavior
    Photo: Timmy Toucan / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    Like many of nature's most magnificent animals, tree-kangaroos may not be long for this Earth. The reason won't be surprising if you've been paying attention to the ongoing crisis the planet is suffering. Human-led deforestation is the culprit; it's been reducing the forests that these animals call home for decades.

    Tree-kangaroos' habitat is being cut down for timber or removed to make way for massive mining operations, which is devastating many species Matschie’s tree-kangaroos, for instance, are numbered at less than 3,000 individuals left in the wild. Combined with effects of unsustainable hunting by indigenous cultures, the loss of their habitat might be the final straw for these animals.

  • They Only Live In The Rainforests Of Australia And Surrounding Islands

    They Only Live In The Rainforests Of Australia And Surrounding Islands
    Photo: belgianchocolate / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    Tree-kangaroos certainly live up to their names, as they can only be found in environments rich with tree life. Today, the remaining species are limited to Australia and the neighboring island of New Guinea.

    Through millions of years of evolution, these marsupials have evolved to be most at home in the treetops. Their arms are may be short, but what they lose in length they make up for in strength. They can support their body weight while climbing through the trees with ease.

  • They're Related To Kangaroos And Wallabies

    They're Related To Kangaroos And Wallabies
    Photo: Cburnett / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Tree-kangaroos belong to a group of animals known as macropods, the same family as ground kangaroos and wallabies. The strange thing about macropods is that all of their older ancestors once lived in the trees, but later adapted to a life on the ground. This is also true of the ancestors of tree-kangaroos; they too came down from the canopy and adapted to the low life. Apparently surviving out of the trees was just too unbearable for these specific kangaroos, who eventually re-adapted back to a treetop lifestyle.

  • They Are Giants When It Comes To Tree-Dwelling Marsupials

    They Are Giants When It Comes To Tree-Dwelling Marsupials
    Photo: belgianchocolate / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    It's not easy getting a kangaroo into a tree, and that's mainly because they're pretty big. While not as large as many species of ground kangaroo, tree-kangaroos are impressively big for an animal that spends its days hanging around. They are the largest mammals in Australia to live exclusively in trees, and can weigh as much as 32 pounds. Some species measure close to six feet from nose to tail, although other species are only half that length.

  • They're Mostly Solitary Animals

    While many aspects of tree-kangaroos' lives remain a mystery, researchers are finally starting to learn about their social habits. There's not much to learn, as it turns out – tree-kangaroos are primarily solitary creatures. Tree-kangaroos rarely interact with one another unless they are looking to mate, but the party is over once the deed is done and the two go their separate ways. The females remain independent from the males and don't really bond with anyone except their offspring. In fact, a newborn joey is actually more likely to survive if there are no other tree-kangaroos around.

  • It's Rare For A Tree-Kangaroo To Step Foot On The Ground

    It's Rare For A Tree-Kangaroo To Step Foot On The Ground
    Photo: Cyndy Sims Parr / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    It's not much of a surprise that an animal with the word "tree" in its name would spend most of its time traveling from limb to limb through the forest, but these guys are especially committed. Tree-kangaroos spend the vast majority of their lives entirely in trees, where they feast on the leaves as their primary source of nutrition.

    Some species live in mountainous forests with elevations as high as 11,000 feet, which pretty much confirms that they have zero fear of heights.