Kangaroos are the tallest marsupials on Earth. Female kangaroos have a pouch on their belly, made by a fold in the skin, to cradle baby kangaroos called joeys. They have powerful hind legs, a long, strong tail, and small front legs. Because of their large feet, kangaroos can leap to about 30 feet in a single bound, and travel more than 48 kilometers per hour.
Kangaroos belong to the genus Macropus, which means “large foot.”Other smaller but similarly shaped species also belong to that genus, though it is difficult to tell them apart. Wallabies are the genus’s tiniest members, and wallaroos are the name for species that fall somewhere in between.
- Scientific Classification
- Kingdom – Animalia
- Phylum – Chordata
- Class – Mammalia
- Family – Macropodidae
- Length – Male – 45 cm long and Female 54 cm long
- Habitat – Australia
- Average Lifespan – up to 23 years
- Diet – Herbivore
- IUCN Red List Status – Least Concern
- Group: Troop or Mob
- Sound: Chortle
- Female: Flyer, Doe, Jill
- Male: Boomer, Buck, Jack
Due to the extinction of huge carnivores like thylacines and marsupial lions, kangaroos in Australia don’t have many natural predators. Nonetheless, a few creatures are known to prey on kangaroos, usually picking on joeys or adults of smaller species. These predators include dingoes as well as exotic animals like dogs, cats, and red foxes.
Male red kangaroos can reach heights of up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) and weigh around 200 pounds (90 kilograms). They have muscular legs built for hopping and can cover large distances at high speeds, reaching up to 40 miles per hour (64 kilometers per hour).
Kangaroos possess a unique reproductive system. Females have a pouch in which they carry and nurse their young, known as joeys. After a very short gestation period, the tiny, underdeveloped joey is born and crawls into the mother’s pouch, where it continues to grow and develop.
Kangaroos are herbivores and mainly feed on grasses and shrubs. They have specialized teeth and a complex digestive system that allows them to efficiently extract nutrients from their plant-based diet.
Apart from their hopping ability, kangaroos are also known for their powerful kicks, which they use for self-defense. They are social animals and live in groups called mobs.
Interesting Facts About Kangaroo –
1. The four species commonly referred to as kangaroos are: the red kangaroo , the eastern gray kangaroo, the western gray kangaroo, and the antilopine kangaroo (Macropus antilopinus).
2. Joeys weigh less than two grams at birth. That’s about the size of a jellybean!
3. Kangaroos do not sweat. Instead, they lick themselves. As their saliva evaporates, they get cooler.
4. Kangaroos use their big tails to help them balance while jumping.
5. According to National Geographic, the largest kangaroo, as well as the largest marsupial, is the red kangaroo. Whereas, the smallest kangaroo is the musky rat-kangaroo.
6.Because of their long feet and large tail, kangaroos can’t walk or hop backwards.
7.A kangaroo has excellent hearing. Did you know each ear of a kangaroo can independently rotate 180 degrees? Put simply their hearing can scan 360 degrees for any signs of danger from predators.
8. Kangaroos are herbivores. They eat grasses, flowers, leaves, ferns, moss and even insects. Like cows, kangaroos regurgitate their food and re-chew it before it is ready to be totally digested.
9. A kangaroo can survive for long periods without drinking water, as it is hydrated by the moisture in the vegetation it consumes.
10. Did you know? A group of Kangaroos is called a troop or herd, but in Australia the group is often known as a mob. Typically 50 or more kangaroos live together in a group.
11. Most kangaroos are left-handed. Wild kangaroos gravitate to using their left hands for tasks like grooming and feeding.
12. Kangaroo meat is commonly eaten by Australians. Because the kangaroo population is so high, it’s not a threat to their existence.
13. There’s a species of kangaroos that lives in trees. Unlike the kangaroos we think of, tree kangaroos walk on all fours and don’t hop.
14. The word kangaroo comes from the aboriginal Guugu Yimithirr people’s word for the gray kangaroo (gangurru). The word was first recorded as “Kangooroo or Kanguru” in 1770 by British explorer James Cook.
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