(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

The musky rat-kangaroo, scientific name Hypsiprymnodon moschatus is a small marsupial discovered solely within the rainforests of northeastern Australia. First described within the later 19th century, the one different species are identified from fossil specimens.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo profile

They are related in look to potoroos and bettongs however should not as carefully associated. Their omnivorous diet is thought to incorporate supplies equivalent to fruit and fungi, in addition to small animals equivalent to bugs and different invertebrates. The native Aboriginal name for the species is durrgim yuri.

The smallest macropodids, this marsupial resembles a small kangaroo. The Musky rat-kangaroo strikes round by sluggish “bunny-hop” motion. A vital figuring out characteristic of this animal is its hind feet, having 5 toes.

These kangaroos happen in tropical rainforests within the north-eastern Queensland (Australia), the place they inhabit areas with dense vegetation around lakes and streams.

Musky rat-kangaroo are primarily insectivorous. Their diet consists of bugs and worms, complemented with fruits, seeds, tuberous roots, and palm berries.

Hypsiprymnodon moschatus are solitary animals however feed in pairs or trios. They are actually diurnal. Unlike most macropods, they run on all 4 limbs as a substitute for hopping on the rear two.

They use their tail to assemble nesting materials equivalent to dried grass ferns and lichens. They sleep in these nests, that are ceaselessly inbuilt a clump of Lawyer Vine or between the plank buttresses of a big tree.

They are extraordinarily shy and fast animals, which makes commentary tough. One account has Musky rat-kangaroo sunbathing unfold eagle on a fallen log. Others declare that they’re good climbers and spend a while in bushes.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo

Geographic Range

Musky Rat-Kangaroo resides within the Australian tropical rainforest. They occupy about 320km of the coast in northeastern Queensland.


They reside within the dense vegetation surrounding lakes and streams within the rainforest. They sleep of their nests, however little else is thought of because of their reclusive nature.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo Description

Musky Rat-Kangaroo is the smallest species of the macropod order, weighing around 500 grams. The total size of the pinnacle and body is 155 to 270 millimeters, the burden range from 360 to 680 grams.

Sexual dimorphism shouldn’t be readily obvious on this species, though the females could also be barely bigger. They have a long black tail, measuring from 125 to 160 mm.

The look of the tail is scaly, fairly than bushy, and proportionally shorter than the size of the pinnacle and body. Their ears are additionally practically hairless and seem leathery.

The pelage is a uniform, deep, and wealthy brown color with reddish highlights over many of the body, the pinnacle, and decrease components are considerably greyish.

The darkish and chocolatey color of the fur distinguishes them from the opposite residing ‘rat-kangaroos’. A metal gray color on the head grades into the wealthy brown of the body.

The feet of Musky Rat-Kangaroo are blackish and, uniquely among the many macropods, have 5 toes on the hindfoot. A band of white, variously slight to distinct, seems from the stomach towards the throat. The animal emits a noticeable musky odor.

The dentition of the species resembles that of the extant potoroids, however for that family’s incisor components of I3/1.

The dental components of Musky Rat-Kangaroo are I3/2 C1/0 PM1/1 M4/4.

Two premolars present in juveniles are changed at maturity when a single sectorial premolar erupts. The sequence of rising molars and premolars permits the age of the person to be decided.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo has an advantageous and delicate skull construction with a rostrum that’s slim and elongate. A long nasal bone construction and distance between the canine and premolar teeth are giant.

Food behavior

Musky rat kangaroos are totally different from different rat-kangaroos in that they’re primarily insectivorous. They additionally eat worms, tuberous roots, and palm berries.

The animal sits on its haunches whereas consuming and finds meals by turning over particles and digging. They are solitary however have typically been seen in feeding aggregations of two or three.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo Physical Traits

Their body is 208-341mm long and their tail is 65-123mm long. They are a wealthy brown or rusty gray color and largely coated by brief velvety underfur. The underside is a creamy tan color, paler than the back.

The tail is scaly and bare like that of an opossum. The ears are bare as effectively and are skinny, round, and darkish in color. The claws are small, weak, and unequal in size.

Females have 4 mammae and a well-developed pouch. The forelimbs and hindlimbs are more related in size than in different Macropods. The dentition is tailored for a normal diet, and the dental components is (i 3/1,c 0-1/10, pm 2/2, m 4/4) X 2 = 32 or 34.

Throughout adolescence, molariform teeth migrate to make room for late erupting molars. This fourth molar does not erupt till very late in life.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo

Distribution and habitat

The species solely happens within the northeastern part of the continent. They could also be regionally frequent in remaining areas of intensive rainforest and may happen at high and low elevations. The distribution range extends from west of Ingham, Queensland at Mt. Lee to Mt. Amos south of Cooktown.

They are present in low altitude rainforests, equivalent to Cape Tribulation and Mission Beach, and throughout the montane habitat of the Carbine, Atherton, and Windsor tableland areas. The inhabitant’s density of Musky Rat-Kangaroo is from 1.40 to 4.50 animals per hectare.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo Lifestyle

Due to their shyness and quickness, these kangaroos are extraordinarily tough to identify and observe within the wild. Musky rat-kangaroos are usually solitary, though they’re identified to feed in small teams of two – Three people.

These diurnal animals sleep of their nests usually made between the plank buttresses of a big tree or in a clump of Lawyer Vine. When establishing their nests, Musky rat-kangaroos accumulate nesting materials (e.g. ferns, lichens, and dried grass) with their tails.

When operating, they use all of their 4 limbs, versus different macropods, hopping on their hind feet. According to an observation, these kangaroos could sunbathe on fallen logs. They have additionally been seen in bushes, suggesting they’re good climbers.

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Musky Rat-Kangaroo Behavior

A normally solitary animal that’s solely energetic in the course of the day, distinguishing them from the nocturnal habits of the rat-kangaroos within the Potoroidae family.

They are most energetic within the morning and afternoon, retiring to their shelter in the course of the center of the day. They are largely terrestrial, foraging on the forest flooring, though they’re able to transfer by way of the branches of the decrease vegetation.

A nest is roughly constructed at a site the place the animal shelters whereas sleeping. Observations of the behavior inside its dense habitat introduced difficulties to early fieldwork, nevertheless, the usage of a thread, frivolously glued to the animal and fed from a spool, allowed the exercise and range of men and women to be more precisely evaluated.

The particular person ranges overlap in each of their foraging and nest sites. Males could enterprise out in a range from 0.eight to 4.2 hectares, whereas females are recorded foraging over a smaller sized space of as much as 2.2 ha. Although they’re normally solitary within the activities, a number of could collect to feed at fallen fruit.

Their omnivorous diet contains fruits and fungi together with some bugs and different invertebrates, discovered among the many leaf litter and decrease story of the rainforest.

The composition of the diet has been described as omnivorous, maybe with decreased capability for the carnivory of some fossil species of propleonines, however different data counsel the diet is essentially frugivorous.

Aggressive behaviors between males could also be displayed in the course of the austral spring and summer months, vigorously pursuing one another for around 30 seconds.

The male’s encounters, typically in competitors for fruit, improve in frequency throughout breeding months; bodily interactions between the males are restricted to placing with the front paw.

Reproductive exercise is generally from October to April, the standard litter size is 2 offspring. The newborns travel within the pouch of the mom for about 21 weeks after which are left on the nest whereas the mom forages till the juveniles are totally weaned.

The earliest data notice that the animal was elusive and discreet in its nature and that specimens have been tough to acquire.

Regular exercise is carried out on all 4 limbs, however in contrast to the bettongs and potoroos, the musky rat-kangaroo bounds utilizing all its paws when transferring quickly.

This resembles the attribute hopping of a rabbit more than that of its macropod relations. It strikes by extending its body after which bringing each of its hind legs ahead and makes use of an opposable toe on the hindfoot to climb bushes.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo

Musky Rat-Kangaroo Ecology

Numerous parasitic species are presumed to be related to Musky Rat-Kangaroo, together with inside organisms equivalent to roundworm and tapeworm species and ectoparasites equivalent to ticks, mites, lice, and fleas; the recognized species of mites (Acari) are these of genera Mesolaelaps and Trichosurolaelaps.

Musky rat-kangaroos have been shielded from most of the threatening components that tremendously decreased the potoroine species, and their rainforest habitat has partially stay secluded and conserved.

The species stays weak to fragmentation of the inhabitants by land clearing, which disrupts the flexibility to recolonize and will increase genetic isolation,

Their function in seed dispersal inside their range is likewise vital to the ecology of their tropical rainforest habitat.

By carrying a fleshy fruit away to be consumed, or urgent them into the earth as a cache, Hypsiprymnodon moschatus offers a bonus to the plant’s potential for recruitment.

This interplay between crops and mammals has been in comparison with these on different continents, such because the squirrels and agoutis, and posited for example of convergent evolution.

The lack of size distinction within the sexes corresponds to a restricted residence range for males, the shortcoming to range past the feminine additionally permits better consideration to sexual opponents. The high level of overlaps within the range of a neighborhood populous permits high inhabitants densities.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo Reproduction

Little is thought in regards to the mating and reproductive behavior of Musky rat-kangaroos, because of their elusive behavior. However, they’re identified to breed from February to July.

Like in different kangaroos, the gestation interval lasts for 19 days, yielding 2 younger. Newborn infants reside within the pouch of their mom for 21 weeks, after which they arrive out of the pouch, remaining within the nest for an extra number of weeks. Females of this species attain sexual maturity after one-year-old.

Breeding takes place between February and July (the wet season). Usually, two younger are born they usually depart the pouch after 21 weeks. For a number of more weeks, the younger reside in nests. Females are sexually mature at barely more than one year.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo


In course of time, these kangaroos have lost a giant part of their authentic range, particularly within the coastal lowlands, the place their rainforest habitat has been becoming agricultural and pastoral areas.

Currently, there aren’t any notable threats to the inhabitants of Musky rat-kangaroos. However, the animals are considered hunted by feral cats and dogs. They can also undergo the clearing of the rainforest, which is their natural habitat.


According to IUCN, the Musky rat-kangaroo is frequent throughout its range however no total inhabitants estimate is accessible. Currently, this species is assessed as Least Concern (LC), and its numbers are stable.

Feeding upon vegetation, Musky rat-kangaroos function as key seed dispersers of the rainforest ecosystem, enhancing the regeneration of varied crops.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo Facts

Musky rat-kangaroo is the smallest and, morphologically probably the most primitive, member of the kangaroo family. The species represents the earliest evolutionary stage, being a link between ancestral arboreal opossum and macropods.

This animal is among the few actually diurnal kangaroo species in Australia.

Musky rat-kangaroos are distinguished from different kangaroos because of their uncommon, scaly tail. In addition, they have got a well-developed, clawless, and nonopposable first digit on every one of their hind feet, whereas different species of their genus shouldn’t have the first digit in any respect.

These animals are so-called because of giving off a musky scent.

The Musky rat-kangaroo strikes round by hopping on all 4 limbs like a bunny, whereas different kangaroos usually use solely two legs. The animal gallops by pushing its hind limbs in front outdoors the shorter forelimbs.


They are comparatively frequent of their range so there isn’t any particular standing for Musky Rat-Kangaroo. Most of their residing space falls throughout the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area so it appears that evidently, populations are fairly safe.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo

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