Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kangaroos (macropods)

This unusual looking creature is a Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo found only in Daintree area in Qld. It is a good example of how creatures evolve to suit the habitat they are living in. Rainforrest can be really dense and getting around in trees is easier than try to get through dense areas of ground level rainforrest vegetation.
Kangaroos are one of Australia's iconic animals and seeing them is almost obligatory if you visit from anywhere overseas. In reality the term kangaroo is given to group of animals of similar appearance but they range from possum sized betongs and rat-kangaroos to red kangaroos that stand nearly as tall as person. The largest ones we call kangaroos, wallabies are medium sized and the betongs, pademelons, rat kangaroos are examples of the smaller representatives of the group.

They can be found in just about every habitat: desert, grasslands, scrublands, forrests, rocky mountain ranges and any thing in between. Some live entirely in the open while others like the betongs, scrape out a depresson and build woven nests under grass tussocks to shelter in. Some are adept at jumping up rocky ridges while others like the tree kangaroos not only climb but spend most of their lives in the trees. The following images are a few of the different kinds found on the east coast area of Australia. Kangaroos are part of a group of primitive mammals called marsupials which have pouches for their young. Very soon after birth the very tiny baby kangaraoo climbs up through its mother's fur into the protection of its pouch where it will spend many more months growing before it is ready to be independant. This is a pademelon joey taken at Womboyne Lake, NSW.

Typically we see kangaroos in this upright pose ready to hop off, however much of the time they dont actually hop on two legs. The next few pictures show how they not only use all four limbs to move but also their tail, which they use like an extra leg to support their body when they swing their rear legs forward.

All the above shots are of pademelons taken at Womboyne Lake, NSW.

This is an Agile Wallaby taken near Cooktown, Qld. (above and below)

This is a Black or Swamp Wallaby, taken in Qld but they are found all along the east coast of Australia around to the SA border. They feed on shrubs, ferns, sedges and only some grasses and are often active during the day but they are shy and solitary.

At night time at Cania Gorge these little members of the kangaroo family come out to graze. It is a Rufous Betong. When they stand they are really cute like minature kangaroos but when they are on all fours feeding they look a lot more possum like. They use their claws to did for tubers and underground fungi and they also eat seeds, insects, some grasses and sedge stems.
They are restricted to NE coast of Australia now but in tne past they were found in Victoria near they Murray River.

This is an Eastern Grey kangaroo taken at Narooma, NSW.