IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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Musky rat kangaroo (Hypsiprymnodon moschatus)

Some scientists place the musky rat kangaroo in a subfamily (Hypsiprymnodontinae) of the rat kangaroo family (Potoroidae), but the species is usually classified in the family Hypsiprymnodontidae with prehistoric rat-kangaroos (Wikipedia). It has several unusual traits, linking it to more primitive marsupial ancestors. These include reptile-like scales on its feet and tail, engaging in a more primitive hopping behavior than most of its kangaroo cousins and having 5 toes on each foot (Wikipedia).

The musky rat kangaroo lives in dense vegetation surrounding lakes and streams in lowland and highland wet tropical rainforests in about 320km of the coast in northeastern Queensland (ADW, IUCN). It ranges from Mount Amos in the north to Mount Lee in the south and from sea level to around 1,100 m (IUCN). It does not persist in forest fragments (IUCN).

The body is 208-341mm long, the tail is 65-123mm long and the weight is 332-680 g. It is a rich brown or rusty grey colour and is mostly covered by short velvety underfur. The underside is a creamy tan, paler than the back. The tail is scaly and hairless. The ears are naked, thin, round and dark in colour. The claws are small, weak and unequal in length. . The forelimbs and hindlimbs are more similar in size than in other macropods. The dentition is adapted for a general diet; the dental formula is (i 3/1,c 0-1/10, pm 2/2, m 4/4) X 2 = 32 or 34. Throughout early life, molariform teeth migrate to make room for late erupting molars. The fourth molar doesn't erupt until very late in life.

The kangaroo is diurnal, reclusive and generally solitary, but may be seen in feeding aggregations of two or three (ADW, IUCN). It sleeps in nests at night (ADW, IUCN).It is quadrupedal and moves by extending its body and bringing both hind legs forward; it uses an opposable digit on the hind foot to climb trees (Wikipedia).

It is primarily insectivorous, but also eats worms and other invertebrates, as well as tuberous roots, fallen ruit, large seeds and palm berries. It sits on its haunches while eating and finds food by turning over debris and digging.

Breeding occurs from February-July (the rainy season). Females have four mammae. One to four (usually two) young are born and they leave the well-developed pouch after 21 weeks (ADW, IUCN). For several more weeks the young reside in nests. The kangaroo becomes sexually mature at about 1 year old. A captive lived for 4 years and the species is reported to live for 6 years (AnAge).

The IUCN Conservation Status is 'Least Concern' as the kangaroo is relatively common in its range, has a presumed large population, lacks major threats and rarely comes into contact with humans and has no economic impact on them (ADW, IUCN). Feral cats and dogs may cause some localized declines (IUCN). The species does not survive in forest fragments and its former range has been reduced through conversion of tropical forest to agricultural and pastoral land, particularly in the coastal lowlands (IUCN). The species is present in a number of protected areas, including national parks, forest reserves, and the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, so populations are probably secure (ADW, IUCN).


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