Red-legged pademelon

The red-legged pademelon (Thylogale stigmatica) is a species of small macropod found on the northeastern coast of Australia and in New Guinea. In Australia it has a scattered distribution from the tip of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland to around Tamworth in New South Wales.[3] In New Guinea it is found in south central lowlands.[4]

Species of marsupial

Red-legged pademelon[1]
Thylogale stigmatica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Macropodidae
Genus: Thylogale
T. stigmatica
Binomial name
Thylogale stigmatica

(Gould, 1860)
Red-legged pademelon range

The red-legged pademelon is usually solitary but may group together when feeding.[5] It is found mostly in rainforests, where it is rarely seen, but it is not considered threatened.[2] In New South Wales, however, it is considered to be vulnerable.[6] It feeds on fallen fruit, leaves and grasses.[3] It weighs 2.5 to 7 kg and is 38–58 cm long with a 30–47 cm tail.[5]

There are four subspecies of the red-legged pademelon:[1]

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The red-legged pademelon is a marsupial rainforest kangaroo. As is typical of marsupials, when a baby pademelon is born they are incompletely developed and are generally carried and suckled in a pouch on their mother’s belly. They are found in rainforests and the open country. Red-legged pademelons are the only ground dwelling wallaby that lives in the Wet Tropics rainforests. There are a few subspecies of red-legged pademelon, but the species in this article is Thylogale stigmatica (T. stigmatica). It is also part of the family Macropodidae (wallabies, kangaroos, etc.).

Red-legged pademelons have soft thick fur, grey-brown on the back and cream on the belly. The cheeks forearms, outside and inside of their hind legs are a rusty brown colour. Its common name refers to the rusty colour on the limbs. They also have a pale cream stripe on their outer thigh. Rainforest forms are usually darker in colour than those from the open country.

Their tail is short and thick, and an average-sized pademelon may be

2+12 feet (76 cm) tall when standing upright. They are 35–58 cm when not standing upright, have a 30–47 cm tail and weigh between 2.5 and 7 kg.

Due to land clearance, red-legged pademelons have suffered a reduction in range, but they still remain common where the habitat remains, and they are not seriously disturbed by selective loggings. Distribution is discontinuous, especially in the north where it appears to be limited by the availability of vegetation providing satisfactory cover. The red-legged pademelon seems to prefer rainforest areas, but is also found near both sclerophyll and dry vine scrubs. Extensive rainforest clearing has reduced its available habitat, but sufficient parks and reserves currently exist throughout their range to secure their status. Forest clearing may benefit the red-legged pademelon to a certain point. A higher number of forest fragments means the pademelons have more adequate pastures that provide them with sufficient food. Only two types of subspecies inhabit Australia; Thylogale stigmatica and the Thylogale wilcoxi.

Red-legged pademelons mainly eat fallen leaves, but sometimes they eat fresh leaves. They also feed on fruits and berries from shrubs, the Moreton Bay Fig from the southern part of its range and the fruit of the Burdekin plum from the northern part. The Moreton Bay Fig and the Burdekin Plum are major food sources. They sometimes eat the fishbone fern, king orchid, and grasses like Paspalum notatum and Cyrtococcum oxyphyllum. Red-legged pademelons eat the bark of trees and cicadas. They affect regeneration of the rainforest as they browse on the young trees and can seriously impede their growth or even kill them. They are one of the very few animals that can eat the leaves of the Gympie Gympie (Dendrocnide moroides) which contains a neurotoxin.[7]

The red-legged pademelon lifespan ranges between 4 and 9.7 years. This can be due to predation and forest fire. After a forest fire, predation levels increase due to reduced forest cover.

Pademelons have a gestation period of 28–30 days. Their oestrous cycle is 29–32 days. Mating occurs 2–12 hours after the birth of the young.[8][better source needed] The gender of pouch-young is distinguished at 3 to 4 weeks. Teat detachment occurs at 13–18 weeks. Ears become erect at 15–18 weeks. Eyes open at 16–18 weeks. Hair becomes visible at 19–21 weeks. Young venture out of pouch at 22–26 weeks. Young leave the pouch at 26–28 weeks. Young start eating food at approximately 66 days after leaving the pouch. Females become mature at about 48 weeks. Males become mature at about 66 weeks. Then the process starts again. When it is born, the tiny blind baby has only been developing for 3 to 6 weeks. Its limbs are hardly developed but its forelimbs are well enough developed to haul itself through its mother’s belly hair to reach the pouch. Shortly after giving birth the female macropod becomes receptive again. If she successfully mates, she will again fall pregnant.

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