Finschs Tree-kangaroo (Flannery et al, 1996: 100-101)




Finsch's Tree-kangaroo

Dendrolagus inustus finschi
(Matschie, 1916)

[I] WAS SUDDENLY attracted by a movement in the trees, and there was an animal just in the act of drawing up its long legs among thick branches of a tree with large leaves. In another moment it would have been impossible to say that there was anything alive up there ...

-- British entomologist Evelyn Cheeseman, in the Cyclops Mountains of Dutch New Guinea, 1938.

FINSCH'S TREE-KANGAROO and the Grizzled Tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus inustus inustus) are very similar. Indeed, they are probably more closely similar than any other subspecies recognised in this book. The darker forehead of Finsch's Tree-kangaroo is probably the most reliable distinguishing feature.

Finsch's Tree-kangaroo has an unusual distribution, particularly in Papua New Guinea. There, it is restricted to the northern slopes of the North Coast Ranges, except adjacent to the Irian border, where it extends inland as far as Amanab. Its absence from many apparently suitable areas on the southern slopes of the North Coast Ranges remains unexplained.

It is an active animal which inhabits the lowlands and mid-elevation forests. It is also very large, with males reaching 17 kilograms in the wild (the heaviest weight ever recorded for a free-living tree-kangaroo). Males average 15.5 kilograms, while females average 11.4 kilograms.

Females do not reach sexual maturity until they are about 10 kilograms in weight.

Only five instances of females with pouch young have been recorded, one of which was twins. The twins weighed 400 grams each and were healthy when examined. There is every probability they would have survived into adulthood had their mother not been captured by hunters.

Finsch's Tree-kangaroo might have a higher metabolic rate -- and thus more rapid growth and higher reproductive rate -- than other New Guinea species. It is certainly more active. It eats the leaves of a variety of tree and vine species. Very little is known of its social structure, but there is some evidence suggesting that large males, at least, are solitary.

Finsch's Tree-kangaroo is sometimes kept as a pet by villagers. Because of its strength and large size, it more than holds its own during tussles with the village dogs.


page 100 - 101

Information reproduced from Tree Kangaroos: A Curious Natural History, Melbourne: Reed Books Australia.
© Copyright by Timothy Fridtjof Flannery, Roger Martin, Alexandra Szalay. Illustrations Copyright by Peter Schouten, 1996.
HTML version produced with permission for Papuaweb, 2004.