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Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo

A Tall Story

In Australia, some people tell tall stories.  It is unfair to describe these as lies because they are told more to entertain than to deceive.  This art form is not confined to Australia, but has been common in the past with some of the Australians who spent a lot of time in the remote areas.

One day, one of the men who was known to his friends as a teller of tall stories returned from a remote area of Queensland with a very tall story.  He claimed that he had seen a Kangaroo climbing a tree.  If you think about the shape and behaviour of Kangaroos, this was quite unbelievable.  No doubt some of his friends had a good laugh.

The Man was Telling the Truth

There are two species of Tree Kangaroo in Australia, as well as eight in New Guinea.



The Kangaroo group of animals are descended from a tree dwelling Possum like ancestor which came down from the trees developed over the ages into a large group of species.  One of these went back to the trees while still retaining many Kangaroo like characteristics.

Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo

The smaller of the two Australian species is called Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo after the Reverend Carl Lumholtz. It scientific name is Dendrolagus lumholtzi.

Good Flavour

The generic name Dendrolagus means Tree Hare.  This was given to the Tree Kangaroos because they were considered to be good to eat.  Hunting as well as the destruction and fragmentation of their habitat have severely reduced the numbers of this animal and they are endangered species.

Seeing them

The easiest place to see the Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo is in the Crater Lakes National Park in Queensland. This park is in two sections, each centred around one of the two Crater Lakes of Queensland.  These are Lakes Eacham and Barrine.  Both are easily reached by road from the city of Cairns, the "capital" of North Queensland.

The Tree Kangaroos are mainly seen at night when they are more active.  The ideal weather condition for seeing them is when there is light drizzle because they are more likely to be near the ends of the branches in that weather.  Heavy rain makes them retreat to cover.


The Tree Kangaroos eat leaves from a wide variety of plants, including some that are either toxic or distasteful to many animals.

Tree kangaroo on a branch in Port Douglas, Queensland Zoo. Shot in December 2005.

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