Notable in this large group of typically Australian mammals are kangaroos and wallabies. Many species spend all or part of their lives in trees, and have also developed adaptations to the living conditions of European carnivores and insectivores. The kangaroos and their relatives have very developed hind legs, so that they advance in leaps; to proceed slowly they use their four legs. During their jumps, the kangaroos maintain their balance with their large tail, which is not used to advance at all, contrary to what has been claimed by some. The largest species, the giant gray kangaroo (Macropus robustus), the red kangaroo (M. Rufus) especially abundant in the large red soil expanses of inland eastern Australia, thewallaroo, a mountain or hill species, are widespread and with many varieties. Among these is the Elizabethan kangaroo Barrow Island (Western Australia) and antilopino (M. Antilopinus) from the most slender forms, Northern Australia. The smaller types of kangaroos are generally known under the name of wallabies – many of them inhabit the coastal scrub and inland forests. Notable is the rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata), found in the eastern mountain region from Queensland to Victoria: beautiful species with relatively long and soft coat, small and prehensile hind feet, and a soft and flexible tail ending in a brush. It travels the most difficult terrains by jumping from rock to rock with the agility and confidence of a goat. The kangaroos-mice inhabit woodlands and are nocturnal animals; they are represented by many varieties, but the most numerous is the Potorous tridactylus of south-eastern Australia and Tasmania. One of the forms of marsupials that most interests the naturalist for the marked adaptation to the particular kind of life, is also the arboreal kangaroo (Dendrolagus) of which various species are found in Queensland and New Guinea. The limbs are nearly equal in length, although the kangaroo form is generally preserved. For Australia 2015, please check dentistrymyth.com.
The possums are arboreal marsupials (Phalangeridae) with limbs and prehensile tail. There are several species, and the most common (Trichosurus vulpecula) is found throughout habitable Australia, except the extreme north, where a genus (Phalanger) from the Malay area is represented. Aberrant forms of particular interest are those with a very prehensile tail (Pseudochirus), which build globular nests in dense bushes, similar to those of some birds, and the “flying squirrels”, provided with a skin fold, called patagio, which extends between the forelimb and the hind limb, and like a parachute allows the animal to soar in the air by jumping from the top to the foot of a tree. The smaller species are very beautiful, but nocturnal and therefore rarely visible: among these is the “flying mouse” with a body very similar to that of a mouse, with a small patagio and a flattened tail that resembles a feather. Pygmy phalangeridae or very prehensile tailed opossum-marmots live in the forests of southeastern Australia and Tasmania. The koala or Australian bear (Phascolarctos): purely arboreal type, because it feeds on eucalyptus leaves, with legs equipped with curved claws, suitable for holding onto the branches even during the strongest winds. Although it is a true marsupial, the bear’s name is justified by the lack of a tail, the short and stocky body, the woolly ears, the naked, black and rounded snout, and the stature of a small European bear. The female gives birth to a young every year (between July and August), and, when this has left the pouch, she carries it on her shoulders until she is able to support herself. Koalas are found in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. In recent years there has been a great destruction of this species by the natives for the meat, by the settlers for the fur and now attempts are being made to restore it to its original domain. Similar to bears are also i wombats (Phascolomys), heavy marsupials, living on the ground in large burrows, in the extreme south-east of Australia and in Tasmania.
All the named marsupials belong to the suborder of Diprotodontia, characterized by two prominent teeth for each jaw, and therefore remotely reminiscent of Rodents. The ancient Diprotodon, found in Australia only in the fossil state, is a typical representative. Many other marsupials (especially carnivores and insectivores) belong to the large group of Polyprotodontia, an example of which is the extinct marsupial lion (Thylacoleo). The living forms are represented by the indigenous “cats” (Dasyurus), common throughout the continent, by the Tasmanian “wolf” or “tiger” (Thylacinus cynocephalus) and by the “bear devil”), a squat and small but strong dasiuro with a large head. Similar to the dasiuri, but in general very small and slender, are the “rats”, such as the jerboa or “jumping mouse” (Antechinomys), which lives in some desert regions of central Australia and the small banded anteater (Myrmecobius) of the regions arid regions of South and Western Australia. Peramelids are very common, with different genera scattered throughout Australia, which feed on roots and insects, with a species almost as large as a European rabbit (now almost extinct) in Eastern Australia. A singular and very aberrant form is the mole-marsupial (Notoryctes typhlops), found in the sandy regions of South Australia; another form has also been found in Northwestern Australia. These animals, in general habits, resemble moles; however, they do not dig permanent burrows, but only make their way through the upper layers of sand, looking for ants or other insects.