Episode 250 – Common Spotted Cuscus: A Claimed Staked

“…and today we are talking about an animal that stands for what they believe in. But more on that later.”

What do you do when you’ve saved the last slice of cake but there are other hungry eyes with thoughts of treachery. Anyone with siblings knows that you have to stake your claim quickly. Licking or taking a bite of the sugary delight is enough to deter most shifty sisters and betraying brothers. The common spotted cuscus doesn’t guard baked goods. Rather, he has to guard his territory. But that doesn’t stop him from using this familiar strategy in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Description of the Common Spotted Cuscus

  • Gabi is a lanky lemur-looking fellow with a short, fuzzy coat, a mousey face, and a long curly prehensile tail.
  • The tail is actually covered in scales on the underside to help it grip branches.
  • Its fur color ranges based on its age, sex, and where it lives. The most striking variants are white with large orange splotches like its a color-me-mine version of Rorschach’s mask. 
  • They can also be brown, reddish, and light gray.
  • It has a general weasel body and head shape, though its ears don’t stick out and are hidden under its fur.
  • It has opposable thumbs on its back feet to help it gasp onto trees.

Measure Up

Welcome to the beloved Measure Up segment. The official listener’s favorite part of the show! The part of the show when we present the animal’s size and dimension in relatable terms through a quiz that’s fun for the whole family. It’s also the part of the show that’s introduced by you when you send in audio of yourself saying, singing, or chittering the words Measure Up into ldtaxonomy at Gmail dot com. We don’t have a new Measure Up intro!

Body Length

  • 35 to 65 centimeters (14 to 26 in)
  • How many cuscuses go into the in-game height of the Throat of the World, Skyrim’s tallest mountain?
  • Hint: The Throat of the World is home to the Greybeards, practitioners of the voice. The mountain is a horrible place to visit in survival mode because it takes a long time to reach the top and it’s so cold. The in-game height was determined by measuring the amount of units it is in Skyrim’s Creation Kit.
  • 949 cuscuses. The mountain is 627 meters (2,057 feet) high. 


  • 1.5 to 6 kilograms (3.3 to 13.2 lb)
  • How many cuscuses go into the largest bowl of couscous?
  • Hint: Couscous is small steamed durum wheat clumps, which is essentially a tiny pasta in a long rice shape. The largest bowl was made in Algeria in 2004.
  • 1,009 cuscuses. The bowl was 6.04 tonnes (13,315 lb). 

Common Spotted Cuscus Fast Facts

  • Range: Mostly Papua New Guinea, a few islands in Indonesia, and the tippy top of Australia in a region called Cape York. It prefers rainforests, mangroves, and eucalyptus forests at low altitudes.
  • Diet: Thanks to its unspecified dentition (non-specific teeth), it can eat all kinds of plants including leaves, nectar, and flowers. It can also sometimes eat small animals and eggs.
  • Behavior:
    • The cuscus is reclusive so it’s difficult to find and observe
    • It is generally solitary and nocturnal, though it sometimes does eat during the day
    • It needs to look out for pythons and predatory birds.
    • They live for about 11 years in the wild.

Major Fact: A Claim Staked

The common spotted cuscus is a solitary man. For most of their year, they feed and nest alone. 

Male cuscuses can be extremely territorial. Even though they look like a cross between a teddy bear and a sloth, they can get pretty aggressive. Male relationships are often confrontational if they happen to cross paths.

But if you’re a lone fuzz monkey trying to live a peaceful life, what can you do to avoid encroaching invaders?

Stake your claim so that everyone knows who this territory belongs to.

Male cuscuses mark their territory with their scent in several ways. They emit a body odor that is quite powerful. Though one video featured a man holding a cuscus saying, “He’s got a very very strong, but not actually unpleasant, smell.” 

They also spray excretions from their scent glands to make sure their musk really seeps into all the cracks of their favorite tree. 

But anyone with siblings knows there is one sure way to claim a cookie–lick it. 

The spotted cuscus likes to lick the branches and leaves of their tree to let everyone else know who is the king of tree, keeper of leaves.

Sometimes, males mosey past these scent warnings and confront their rivals. If so, they will quite literally post up. 

The cuscus males will stand straight up on their back legs and make barking and snarling noises. If this display of standing up to their enemies doesn’t work, they can scratch, bite, and kung fu kick rivals and predators. 

Ending: So eat your leafy greens, take hold of your arboreal raft, and stand up for what you believe in like the cuscus here in LDT.