Papua New Guinea, with its warm climate and rainforests, is the ideal home for many animals. Since it's made up of islands, some of these animals, including marsupials, egg laying mammals, fantastically beautiful birds, bats, reptiles and amphibians, are found nowhere else. Unfortunately, because of habitat destruction, many of these animals are threatened. The symbol of Papua New Guinea, found on its flag and emblem, is the Greater Bird of Paradise
, so it's logical to begin with this beautiful animal.
The Greater Bird of Paradise lives in the New Guinea rainforests. The differences between the sexes are dramatic, with the female being a drab brown bird who lacks the male's amazing plumes. Of course, he uses his plumes and tail streamers to attract the female. Males gather together on bare branches in the trees, ruffle their plumes and call, then wait while the female picks her mate. After that, she'll go on to raise the chicks by herself. The Greater Bird of Paradise eats insects and fruit.
The echidna is an unusual animal in that it's a mammal that lays eggs. This sort of animal is called a monotreme. It lives underground to avoid the heat of the day. It's solitary, eats ants and termites, and has a sort of spiny fur. When it's threatened, the echidna rolls up into a ball and depends on its spines to protect it, much like a hedgehog.
Matschie's tree kangaroo is a rare marsupial that's found in Papua New Guinea, specifically on the Huon peninsula. It's one of the few kangaroos found outside of Australia. Unlike Australia's gigantic kangaroos, the Matschie's tree kangaroo only grows to about 25 inches long. Its tail is about as long as its body, and helps it balance. The males, who are bigger than the females, weigh about 20 to 25 pounds, where the females weigh about five pounds less. It has woolly fur that reminds the viewer of a koala, except the kangaroo's fur is red on the back and golden on the front. As their name implies, they live in trees, and their paws have become adapted to climbing. They tend to live in small groups and are herbivorous. Because of their diet, they have to spend a long time digesting food, and spend much of their day at rest.