10 Interesting Facts About Kangaroos

Kangaroo: A marsupial in the family Macropodidae

Family: Macropodidae

Kangaroos belong to the family Macropodidae, which means “big foot” in Latin

This is a reference to the species’ unusually large hind legs

The species known as kangaroos are the largest animals in the genus Macropus

The four species commonly referred to as kangaroos are: the red kangaroo (Macropus rufus), the eastern gray kangaroo (Macropus giganteus), the western gray kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus), and the antelope kangaroo (Macropus antilopinus)

Kangaroos are the largest marsupials in the world

A kangaroo can reach a height of 3 to 8 feet and weigh 40 to 200 pounds

The eastern gray kangaroo is the heaviest marsupial in the world, while the red kangaroo is the largest

A red kangaroo can weigh 200 pounds and grow six feet long

The kangaroo has powerful hind legs and large paws, and a large muscular tail that keeps it balanced while moving

Kangaroos are the only large animal that uses jumping as its primary means of locomotion

A male kangaroo can jump up to 30 feet long and up to 10 feet high

Kangaroos are herbivores that eat a variety of plants

Their diet varies from species to species

Kangaroos also have very specialized teeth

Its incisors can cut grass and bushes very close to the ground, and its molars are designed to grind vegetation

The species has an unusual feeding habit

The kangaroo regurgitates the grass and bushes it has already eaten and chews it once more before swallowing it for final digestion

A kangaroo can survive without drinking water for long periods of time because it is hydrated by the moisture from the vegetation it consumes

The kangaroo is endemic to Australia

This species is also found in Tasmania and nearby islands

Other marsupials can be found in parts of Asia and the Americas, although the Australian continent has by far the largest numbers of both species and populations

The species is highly adaptable and can successfully live in many habitats

Species often live in large groups known as mobs

These gangs can range in size from small groups to more than a hundred kangaroos

The kangaroo is a highly social species and often engages in nose touching or sniffing to create cohesion within the group

Boxing between men in a group is used to establish dominance

The dominant male leads the mob and has exclusive access to females for mating

A baby kangaroo is born only after a gestation period of about a month

Like all marsupials, the female kangaroo has a pouch called a marsupium

Immediately after birth, the newborn, which is born hairless, blind and less than an inch long, crawls into a pouch where it nurses and continues to develop

A joey, or baby kangaroo, stays in the pouch for 120 to 400 days, depending on the species

During periods of drought, the female kangaroo loses the ability to conceive

As the necessary resources are again available to the population, the female’s ability to produce offspring is restored

In good conditions, the female gives birth every year

Humans are the main threat to kangaroos as they hunt the animal for meat and hide

Other human activities also pose a threat to kangaroos

As human activity increases, the kangaroo’s habitat decreases

Therefore, human-kangaroo conflicts are more common

For example, a kangaroo is more likely to be attacked by a dog or hit by a car when people expand into a kangaroo’s habitat

Kangaroos face few natural predators except humans and wild dogs called dingoes

Heat, drought and starvation due to habitat loss are some of the biggest threats to kangaroos

Each kangaroo species is classified as “least concern” by the IUCN However, habitat loss and human activity have led to a decline in the population size of several species

Several conservation groups are working to protect these Australian icons, including San Diego Zoo Global, WWF and Bush Heritage Australia

Bush Heritage Australia has kangaroos on most of their reserves and partnerships

They help kangaroos by reducing competition, such as by removing herds and controlling wild herbivores

On many of their properties, they remove artificial watering points to restore the landscape, including kangaroo numbers, to a more natural level

Source: San Diego Zoo and NATURE’s Kangaroo Resources

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