Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo

Category: Wildlife

Unlike its ground dwelling relatives, the Matschie’s tree-kangaroo prefers to live in trees, as its name implies. This kangaroo lives in the rainforests of Northeastern New Guinea, on the Huon Peninsula.

Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo

Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo

Scientific & Common Names

Class: Mammalia

Infraclass: Marsupialia

Order: Diprotodontia

Family: Macropodidae

Genus: Dendrolagus Species: D. matschiei

Common Names: Matschie’s Tree-Kangaroo, Huon Tree-Kangaroo


Matschie’s tree-kangaroos grow to about 32 inches in length, not including their tail. This is much smaller than the more well-known ground-dwelling kangaroos of Australia. They weight about 25 pounds fully grown.

They are a golden brown in color above, and creamy white on their undersides. Matschie’s tree-kangaroos have a distinctive fur pattern called a whorl that runs the length of their back, causing the animals’ fur to branch off in different directions.


Gestation lasts around 45 days, which is long for a marsupial. As a marsupial, the baby is born under-developed and makes its way to the mother’s pouch to continue growing. Joeys (baby kangaroos) do not leave the pouch fully for the first time until 28 weeks after birth. They will leave the pouch for good after 40 weeks or so.


Matschie’s tree-kangaroos eat leaves, sap, nuts and flowers, but will also occasionally eat insects. They only need to eat for a few hours a day, and then will spend the rest of the day resting while their food digests. Like cows, they have multiple stomachs to help them break down their food. They can sleep up to 15 hours a day.

They typically live alone, or in small groups of two or three individuals, and spend much of their time in trees. They are very good at jumping and leaping from tree to tree.


Tree-kangaroos are thought to have evolved from a ground-dwelling, possum-like ancestor. As the climate around them began to grow dryer, the animals evolved into rock-wallabies, who adapted to a rocky landscape and learned to subsist on a wide range of food items. These rock-wallabies eventually migrated to rainforests, where their adaptability helped them thrive. They eventually took to the trees and evolved into the tree-kangaroos.

Present Status

Matschie’s tree-kangaroos are endangered, due to their rainforest habitat being cleared.

They do well in captivity, and a Species Survival Plan is underway in North America to help in the kangaroo’s preservation.

The YUS Conservation area was created in 2009 in the northern Huon Peninsula, to create protected habitat for tree-kangaroos to thrive.