Meet the little known innocent looking cuscus

The cuddly cuscus gazing back with innocence of its enormous liquid eyes.

Usually surprised at being the object of attention, the cuddly cuscus gazes back with innocence of its enormous liquid eyes.

Its has a round face dominated by a prominent snout, and its ears were almost hidden in the fur.

It is a curious ball of yellow-white fur with a long hairless tail.

The cuscus usually retreats higher through the trees, grasping branches with all four feet and occasionally with its tail, to sulk in lofty isolation.

Koala’s Cousin

The cuscus is one of those unusual animals found only on the island of New Guinea, in northern Australia, and on the islands nearby.

Though it is not as well-known as its famous cousin the koala, there are many similarities.

Like the koala, the cuscus is a marsupial, which means that after giving birth, it carries and nurses its young—in litters of two to four—in a pouch.

The cuscus is also a shy and slow-moving tree dweller.

Its daily routine consists of sleep, sleep, and more sleep.

Wedged in a fork high up a tree, the pink tail dangling down like an inverted question mark, it passes the day oblivious to the hustle and bustle below.

Being nocturnal, it becomes more active at night.

In its natural habitat, the cuscus subsists mainly on tree leaves, buds, and soft-skinned fruits, in addition to small birds and insects.

Its scientific name, Phalanger, means “Fingery one.”

An Appealing Pet

Perhaps because of its docile nature, the cuscus is quite popular as a pet.

And its appeal is undeniable.

First of all, it is colorful.

The fur itself may be anywhere from buff white, russet red, or different shades of gray to almost totally black.

Some are spotted, while others have a dark stripe down the back.

Its woolly, rounded features, its constant and curious stare, its slow and deliberate movements—all make the cuscus an appealing pet.

If you keep in mind its talonlike claws, you can even cuddle the cuscus like a cat.

A cuscus may grow to about two feet [60 cm] long not counting the tail, which is another foot [30 cm] or so in length.

The end part of the tail is hairless and is covered with rough scales, making it look and feel like fine sandpaper—a plus for grasping.

Consider how it eats an ear of corn.

Holding the ear in both paws, it chews along one row of kernels and before proceeding to the next row sniffed carefully along the one just completed to make sure no kernel was missed.

When it was all done, it licked its paws clean and stretched out on the tree limb, plump and satisfied.

The cuscus has few enemies other than humans.

The natives capture the animal for meat and use its beautiful fur for capes and caps.

Today, human encroachment on the cuscus’ natural habitat, the rain forest, through land development, mining, tourism, and so on, is dealing a devastating blow to its survival.