Brief SummaryRead full entry
BiologyDue to the inaccessibility of New Guinea's remote mountain forests (5), little is known about the biology and ecology of the dingiso. However, like other tree kangaroos, it is likely to be an agile animal, which can move quickly from tree to tree, leap as far as nine metres downwards to a neighbouring trunk, and jump to the ground from heights of 18 metres or more, without sustaining injury (2). Although primarily inhabitants of the trees, tree kangaroos are also comfortable on the ground. They descend tree trunks backwards, and move along the ground with small leaps (2). Active during both the day and night, tree kangaroos feeds on leaves and fruit, which they forage for in the trees and on the rainforest floor (2). Like other tree kangaroos, the dingiso is likely to have no defined mating season and probably gives birth to a single young after a gestation period of around 32 days (2). In common with all macropods (the kangaroos and wallabies), tree kangaroos give birth to tiny and highly undeveloped young. The eyes, hindlimbs and tail are barely formed and only the forelimbs are sufficiently developed, allowing the hairless young to climb up its mother's fur into the safety of her pouch. The pouch provides a warm, humid environment where the juvenile, unable to regulate its own temperature, attaches itself to one of its mother's teats, and feeds on the nutritious milk as it grows and develops (3). In captivity, a young tree kangaroo emerged from its mother's pouch after 305 days (2). Local Moni tribesmen have described how when approached, the dingiso sits up, whistles and raises its paws as if greeting. Although thought by scientists to be a threat display, the Moni believed that the dingiso was the spirit of an ancestor who recognised them (5).