|Size:||Length: 12 to 20 inches (30 to 50 cm)|
|Weight:||5 to 15 pounds (2.3 to 6.8 kg)|
|Diet:||Leaves, flowers and fruit|
|Distribution:||Australia, New Guinea|
|Young:||1 to 3|
|Terms:||No special terms|
|Lifespan:||Up to 11 years|
· The only other cuscus in Australia is the grey cuscus.
· The tip of the cuscus’ tail is hairless and scaly.
· Australia’s Taronga Zoo has a program to breed cuscuses and then free them into the wild.
· Although they are considered herbivores, they will eat certain types of meat in captivity.
Cuscuses are small marsupials with
a long tail, a small, round head and large, red-rimmed eyes. They have large canine teeth. They are
related to possums and spend most of their time in trees. Their thick fur ranges
in colour from tan, to creamy white, to orange. Only the males have spots; the
females are a solid colour, usually grey. Specifically, S. maculatus are referred to as spotted while S. rufoniger are black-spotted.
S. maculates is found on the Cape York Peninsula of Australia, in New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, while S. rufoniger is found only in northern and eastern New Guinea. They live exclusively in forested areas that are rapidly decreasing due to logging.
Cuscuses feed on fruit, flowers and leaves.
There is no set time of the year for breeding. Gestation is approximately two weeks long. When the baby is too big to ride in the mother’s pouch, it is carried on the mother’s back.
Cuscuses do not have many enemies, but when threatened, they bark loudly and attack with their front paws. Because their first two digits oppose the last three, cuscuses are good climbers—they are able to grasp branches with their forefeet, feet, and their tails. They are very shy of humans and tend to spend the day sleeping in a leafy nest perched high on a branch, only coming out after dark to feed. The cuscus has a low metabolic rate and body temperature therefore tends to move slowly.
S. rufoniger is listed as Endangered by the IUCN’s Red List. The population of S. maculates is common in New Guinea and in Australia, it is sparse but widespread throughout its limited range.