Couscous (mammals)

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Same color cuscus (Phalanger gymnotis)

Same color cuscus ( Phalanger gymnotis )

Class : Mammals (mammalia)
Subclass : Marsupials (Marsupialia)
Superordinate : Australidelphia
Order : Diprotodontia
Family : Climbing Burs (Phalangeridae)
Genre : Couscous
Scientific name
Storr , 1780

The couscous ( Phalanger ) are a kind from the family of Kletterbeutler (Phalangeridae) that the marsupial order DIPROTODONTIA counts. It is divided into 13 types. The bear cuscus ( Ailurops ), ground cuscus ( Strigocuscus ) and spotted cuscus ( Spilocuscus ) are not included in this genus zoologically.


Couscous can be found in the Moluccas , New Guinea , the Solomon Islands and on the Cape York Peninsula on the northern tip of Australia .


Cuscus are sluggish-looking animals. Their fur is dense and woolly, it can be white, reddish or even black in color. Their muzzle is short, the ears are small and almost invisible, the long tail is hairless at the end for a better grip. The body length is 32 to 60 cm, the tail is just as long. They can weigh between one and seven kilograms.

Way of life

Cuscus are tree dwellers that rarely come to the ground. With their prehensile tails and two thumbs on each hand, they are perfectly adapted to their habitat, tropical rainforests . They spend the day sleeping in tree hollows or on leaves, at night they go for food with slow and sluggish movements. Couscous live solitary.


Couscous feed mainly on fruits and leaves, occasionally they also eat insects and bird eggs.


After a short gestation period (often only two weeks), one to three young are born, usually only one is suckled, although the females have four teats in their pouch. The young animals leave the bag after several months. They have a life expectancy of up to eleven years.


All species are affected by the clearing of the primeval forests and the hunt for their meat. In the current red list of threatened species , four of the subspecies are classified as critically endangered , critically endangered or endangered . For the other subspecies the status not threatened was given.


  • The Gebe couscous ( Phalanger alexandrae ) is endemic to the Gebe Island of the northern Moluccas .
  • The mountain cuscus ( Phalanger carmelitae ) lives in central and eastern New Guinea .
  • The same color cuscus ( Phalanger gymnotis ) is common in New Guinea.
  • The eastern gray couscous ( Phalanger intercastellanus ) lives in eastern Papua New Guinea.
  • The Woodlark couscous ( Phalanger lullulae ) is endemic to the island of Woodlark in New Guinea. The species was not seen for decades and was considered extinct before it was rediscovered in large numbers. However, a large part of the island forest is now to be cleared for garden furniture, which is a serious threat to the habitat of the Woodlark couscous
  • The Telefomin couscous ( Phalanger matanim ) was native to western New Guinea and is believed to be extinct.
  • The southern gray cuscus ( Phalanger mimicus ) occurs in southern New Guinea and northern Australia on the Cape York Peninsula .
  • The gray or woolly cuscus ( Phalanger orientalis ) is the best known species.
  • The Moluccan couscous ( Phalanger ornatus ) inhabits the northern Moluccas.
    • Phalanger matabiru was described as an independent species in 1995, but is currently considered by the Handbook of the Mammals of the World (2015) as a subspecies of the Moluccan cuscus ( P. ornatus matabiru ). Lives in the northern Moluccas .
  • The Obi-Kuskus ( Phalanger rothschildi ) also lives on the northern Moluccas.
  • The silk cuscus ( Phalanger sericeus ) is native to central and eastern New Guinea.
  • Stein's couscous ( Phalanger vestitus ) also lives in New Guinea.
  • The Peleng cuscus ( Phalanger pelengensis ) lives on the Peleng Islands.


Web links

Wiktionary: Kuskus  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Kuskus ( Phalanger )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Woodlark Kuskus threatened. Stop the deforestation! Rettet den Regenwald eV Accessed May 12, 2015