A pademelon is any of seven species of small marsupials of the genus Thylogale. They are usually found in forests. Pademelons are the smallest of the macropods. The name is a corruption of badimaliyan, from the Dharuk Aboriginal language of Port Jackson.
Pademelons, wallabies, and kangaroos are very alike in body structure, and the names just refer to the three different size groups. Originally wallabies were divided into small and large wallabies, but a more suitable name was needed to differentiate between them.
Besides their smaller size, pademelons can be distinguished from wallabies by their shorter, thicker, and sparsely haired tails.
Red-necked Pademelons can be found in the coastal regions of Queensland and New South Wales. In some places their range has been drastically reduced. Red-legged Pademelons can also be found in south-central New Guinea. The Red-bellied or Tasmanian Pademelon is abundant in Tasmania. The Dusky Pademelon lives in Papua New Guinea and surrounding islands. It was previously called the Aru Island Wallaby. Before that, it was called the Filander. This name occurred in a translation of C. de Bruyns Travels published in 1737.
The natural habitat of the pademelon is in thick scrubland or dense forested undergrowth. They also make tunnels through long grasses and bushes in swampy country.
Their main diet is made up of grasses, leaves, and small shoots. They do little damage to crops and are not as aggressive as wallabies and kangaroos can be, making them gentle pets.
Normally, a group of females would stay on the territory with males showing up, only when one of the females is ready for mating. This is in contrast to the behavior of bigger kangaroos, who stay in mixed mobs with a male leader.
Pademelon meat used to be considered valuable and was eaten by settlers and aborigines for a long time. It was once suggested that they be introduced to France as a meat supply. Although their meat is very low in fat and cholesterol (like that of all kangaroos), most Australians consider it no more than "second grade" and strongly prefer lamb and beef instead.
Aside from being killed for their meat and soft fur, their numbers have been reduced by the introduction of predators such as feral cats, dogs, and foxes. The rabbit explosion has also caused problems, as rabbits graze on the same grasses making less available for the pademelon. Also, clearing of land for homes has pushed the larger wallabies and kangaroos into land that pademelons had been thriving in for so long.
Tasmanian Pademelons were important to the Thylacine's diet, and are still preyed on by quolls, Tasmanian Devils, pythons, and Wedge-tailed Eagles. Despite these predators, there are many in Tasmania and its outlying smaller islands, and every year many are killed off to keep their numbers down.
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