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The smallest kangaroo on the planet, the Musky Rat Kangaroo is also a diurnal day napper, usually taking a kip at midday before sleeping through the night. However, unlike the kangaroo, this furry little macropod has a bounding rather than a hopping gait, travelling on all fours, much like the rabbit.
It also has possum-like features, which includes a large toe or hallux on its hind feet which it uses to climb trees. Its tail curls much like a possum’s, which it uses to carry nesting material on its journey through the tropical rainforests of north-east Australia, where it’s primarily found.
This nesting material is made from dried leaves and ferns, which it often sets up on a clump of Lawyer Vine near damp areas of the rainforest, such as creeks and rivers. The Musky Rat Kangaroo also looks a bit like a possum in that it has a rich brown body and a greyish/brown coloured head.
This generally solitary creature is often seen with two young in its pouch, and is rarely seen with less. It’s also a specialist feeder, finding sustenance from a selection of small vertebrates as well as rainforest fruits such as the King Palm.
Figuring as one of two of Australia’s daytime marsupials, the Musky Rat Kangaroo is most active during late morning and early afternoon. It also exists in numbers in New Guinea, and in Australia they can be seen in various parts of north-east Australia at an altitude no greater than 1200 metres.
Scientists have also recently classified the species with the prehistoric rat-kangaroo, as it has retained a prehensile tail, which is scaly, bare, and about 14cm long. It is also known to play a vital role in dispersing the seeds of rainforest plants.