Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Diprotodontia
Family:    Macropodidae
Size:    Height: 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 m)
Weight: 40 to 150 pounds (18 to 68 kg)
Diet: Grass, shrubs and leaves
Distribution: Australia
Young:  1 joey per year
Animal Predators:  Dingoes; foxes and eagles prey on the young
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Male: Buck, Boomer, Jack  Female: Doe, Flyer, Jill   Young: Joey   Group: Mob
Lifespan: Up to 15 years in the wild and up to 25 in captivity



·       Red kangaroos are the largest native mammal of Australia, and the largest marsupial.

·       Males are called “boomers” and females are called “blue fliers.”

·       Kangaroo is a native Australian Aboriginal word.

·       Even though they are vegetarians, kangaroos have sharp caniniform (canine-shaped) incisors.

·       Red kangaroos are the only marsupials that move most naturally on two legs, rather than four. 



Male red kangaroos have brownish-red fur that matches the red soil of the Australian outback where they are found, while females and young kangaroos are grey. Females are smaller than males, weighing from 40 to 80 pounds (18 to 36 kg); males weigh between 100 and 150 pounds (45 to 68 kg). Kangaroos have extremely strong hind legs and can leap up to 25 feet (7.6 m) in a single bounce. They cannot walk or move their feet independently of each other except when swimming, but can go more than 30 miles (56 k) per hour by leaping on their hind legs. According to popular folklore, when the first European settlers arrived in Australia, they were amazed by the sight of these large, hopping mammals and they asked the Aboriginals to tell them the name of these beasts. The Aboriginals, who knew no English, replied “kangaroo” which in their language means, “I can’t understand you.” The settlers thought that kangaroo was the name for these animals and they have been known by this name ever since.



The home range of kangaroos can extend up to 115 square miles. Kangaroos roam the plains and arid inlands of Australia, wherever they can find grass to graze on. 


Feeding Habits

Red kangaroos are strict herbivores, grazing mostly on grass, shrubs and leaves. They feed mostly at night and into the early part of the day. 



The dominant male of the mob regularly mates with all the females. Females give birth to one offspring, called a joey, after a period of approximately one month. The baby is born about the size of a human thumb (0.75 inch/19 mm in length) and it makes its way into the pouch shortly after birth, where it can nurse on one of four teats. For the next three to four months, the joey never lets go of the teat, staying in the pouch until about eight months of age, when it has grown fur and can climb out on its own. However, it will continue nursing until almost one year of age. When danger is near, the kangaroos in the group stamp their feet, and the joey knows it must return to its mother’s pouch, where she will carry it to safety. In fact, the joey keeps returning to her pouch until it is too big, at the age of approximately 11 months. By that time, there may be a new sibling, as kangaroos breed continuously. The mother and offspring usually remain together for several years. 



Red kangaroos live in groups of 10 or less, but sometimes as many as 100 kangaroos may band together. The groups usually consist mainly of females, their joeys and one dominant male. If there is more than one male, the others defer to the dominant one. When cornered, kangaroos can balance on their tail and slash at an enemy, using the sharp claws on their hind feet. To keep cool in hot weather, kangaroos nap in the shade during the day and are awake mostly at night. When kangaroos get overheated, they pant in an effort to get rid of excess body heat and will lick their forearms to cool off. 



Kangaroos can be hunted and killed with a license, so sanctuaries have been set up in various areas of Australia to keep the kangaroo population at a stable level.  



Red Kangaroo Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

Vaughan, T., Ryan, J. and Czaplewski, N. (2000). Mammalogy, Fourth Edition. Orlando: Saunders College Publishing