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Musky Rat Kangaroo

There are several animals of the Kangaroo family referred to as Rat-kangaroos.  This is sometimes written as Rat Kangaroo.  In English, when an animal’s name is made up of two different types of animal, the second one is the type of animal while the first is what it looked like to whoever named it; so a Rat-kangaroo is a type of Kangaroo while a Kangaroo-rat is a type of Rat.

Most Kangaroos have much bigger back legs than their front ones, but the Musky Rat-kangaroo has all four legs of similar length.  They do not tend to hop as much as the larger Kangaroos.

Only One Left

The Musky Rat-kangaroo, Hypsiprymnodon moschatus, is the only surviving species of the family Hypsiprymnodontidae.  It is the smallest of the Macropods (Loosely, the Macropods are the Kangaroo group of animals.)  The maximum weight of the Musky Rat-kangaroo is about one and a half pounds (three quarters of a Kilogram) while the average is about a pound (Half a Kilogram.)This is a similar size to a wild Rabbit.
When Europeans first settled Australia this animal was extremely widely distributed.


This animal lives in the tropical rainforests of North Queensland and can be seen during the day in the Crater Lakes National Park.  Your best chance of seeing wild ones is to go on some of the walking trails round Lake Eacham, and keep your eyes open.

At night you may be lucky enough to see Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroos.


This animal mainly eats fruit such as Figs, Lilly-pillies, Quandongs, Walnuts and the fruit of vines.  They also eat soft coated seeds, tubers and other roots as well as fungus. 

Their diet is generally richer than that of the larger Kangaroos, and their simpler digestive system would be unable to get enough nutrients from the high roughage food of many of their relatives.


The Musky Rat-kangaroo is threatened by the destruction and fragmentation of its habitat. Because their rainforests are being split up into separate small areas by

clearing for other land use, they cannot go from one area to another.  This can lead to local extinction, and contributes to local inbreeding which can weaken populations.

PanBK at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons