Interesting kangaroo fun facts and information

Are you searching for information about kangaroos? Or maybe are you searching for some fun kangaroo facts for kids? Learn all about kangaroos with my interesting & fun facts about kangaroos!

Kangaroo facts
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General Information

1. Kangaroos are not just found on mainland Australia, they are found natively in Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea and on surrounding islands.

2. Kangaroos are marsupial animals, which belong to the animal family Macropodidae (Macropus), which literally means "big footed" or "great-footed".

3. Kangaroos are the largest living marsupials in the world.

4. The red kangaroo is the largest of all the species of kangaroo, and can grow up to 2 metres tall.

5. Despite many websites saying that there are only four species of kangaroo, there are in fact around 60 species of kangaroo and their close relatives. The smaller ones are usually called Wallabies.
Reference: blogs.loc.gov

6. The four most common species are the red kangaroo, the eastern grey kangaroo, the western grey kangaroo, and the antilopine kangaroo.

7. There are a number of kangaroo species that live in trees. Unsurprisingly, they are commonly referred to as "tree kangaroos".




Names

8. A group (collective noun) of kangaroos is generally known as a mob, although you occasionally hear them called a troop or a court.

9. A male kangaroo is generally called a buck, although some people call them a boomer or a jack.

10. A female is generally called a doe, although some people call them a flyer or a jill.

11. A baby kangaroo is called a joey.

12. Australians also call kangaroos by these name: kangas, roos, or skippies.

A girl petting a Red Kangaroo

Movement

13. Kangaroos can hop around quickly on two legs or walk around slowly on all four, but they cannot walk backwards.

14. Because kangaroos and emus cannot walk backwards they were chosen to appear on the Australian coat of arms. It represents a nation moving forward, never backwards.

15. Kangaroos, when moving at great speeds, can jump very high, occasionally up to 3m (10ft) high.

16. A kangaroo can hop at great speeds, up to 60kmh (40mph).

17. Kangaroos are the only known large animal to use hopping as their primary method of moving.

18. They hop because it is a fast and efficient way of travelling, allowing them to cover large distances. This is especially handy in habitats where there is little food or water available.

19. Kangaroos can swim. When they swim they move their hind legs at different times (just like when we kick in the water), but on land they only ever move both of the hind legs at the same time.

20. Kangaroos are social animals who live and travel in organised groups (mobs) dominated by the largest male. There is generally at least 3 or 4 individuals in a mob and some groups, when conditions are good, can comprise of as many as 100 individuals.

Reproduction and the joey

21. A newborn kangaroo is only about 2.5 cm (an inch) long when it is born, making it the size of a bean or grape. and crawls at once into its mother’s pouch.

Kangaroo road sign

22. A newborn joey can't suckle or swallow, so the kangaroo mum must use her muscles to help pump milk down its throat. Clever mum!

23. A female kangaroos pouch can contain two babies at the one time, but they will be born a year apart. The mother then makes two different kinds of milk for the two joeys. Very clever mum!

24. Different kangaroo species differ with the timing, but at approximately 4 months after birth, the joey emerges from the pouch. It will start taking short trips and to grazing on grass.

25. At about 10 - 12 months of age, the joey is mature enough to leave the pouch for good.

Other

26. Kangaroos have excellent hearing. They are able to move their ears in different directions without moving the rest of their head. Can you move your ears without touching them?

27. When threatened, kangaroos pound the ground with their strong feet in warning, much like a rabbit does with its large feet.

28. Fighting kangaroos kick opponents, and sometimes bite.

29. This fighting is generally only done between two male kangaroos looking to become the dominate male of the mob, thus ensuring breeding rights.

30. Kangaroos, due to their large size, face few natural predators. Heat, drought, and hunger are the biggest dangers kangaroos face. Humans and dingoes are about the only predator kangaroos face.

Two Red Kangaroos

31. There are more kangaroos than humans in Australia. It is hard to say exactly how many there are, but it is thought to number somewhere between 30 - 40 million in total.

32. They are very friendly creatures by nature and you will often see them in parkland and golf courses.

33. They are the national symbol of Australia and appear on a range of products including postage stamps, coins, company logos, advertising, and many other things. Many babies and toddlers have a "teddy kangaroo", not a "teddy bear"

34. The Australian airline Qantas uses a kangaroo as their symbol.

35. There are five kangaroos on the Australian one dollar coin.

36. Kangaroo meat only became legal to sell throughout Australia in 1993. Although native Australians and people living in the outback have been eating it for… well... as long as they have been there (the people that is, not the kangaroos. The kangaroos were there a long time before people).

37. The kangaroo always has featured highly in aboriginal art and still does today.

38. Aboriginals hunted roos particularly as a source of meat but they also made things from the hides such as bags for carrying water, and other things.

39. The kangaroo is very important to our tourism and souvenir markets on account of its iconic and symbolic values.

40. In Australia, when people are learning to drive a manual geared car and it sometimes hops along in a very jerky manner, it is called "kangaroo hopping" the car.

Legend has it that shortly after the first European settlers landed in Australia and first saw these strange hopping creatures they asked the local native Australians (aborigine) what they were called.

They replied "kangaroo", which in their local dialect means "I don't understand [your question]". The settlers thought that that was the name of the animal, and that's how the kangaroo got its name.

However, this is just an urban myth. The word "kangaroo" comes from an aboriginal word for the Grey Kangaroo, "gangurru." The word was first recorded as "Kangooroo or Kanguru" in 1770 by British explorer James Cook, when he first discovered Australia (it would take the English another 8 years to return and start settling in Australia).

A close up photo of a kangaroo

Kangaroos come from the Mammalian Class, the Diprotodontian Order, and from the super family Macropodoidea (macropods), meaning "big footed" or "great-footed". There are over 60 different species of kangaroo and their close relatives in the this super family, which is divided into the Macropodidae and the Potoroidae families.

The Macropodidae (macropod) family includes kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos, pademelons, tree-kangaroos and forest wallabies. Species in the macropod family vary greatly in size and weight, ranging from 0.5 kilograms to 90 kilograms. The Potoroidae (potoroid) family of kangaroos includes the potoroo, bettong and rat-kangaroo, which live only in Australia.
Source: cedunawombatandfaunarescue.com

The four species most commonly referred to as the kangaroo are the red kangaroo, the eastern grey kangaroo, the western grey kangaroo, and the antilopine kangaroo. Their details are as follows:

Common Name Scientific Name Length (tail - head) Height (standing) Weight
Eastern grey kangaroo Macropus giganteus 0.9 - 2.4 m (3 - 7.8 ft) Up to 1.9 m (6.2 ft) 18 - 95 kg (40 - 200 lbs)
Western grey kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus 0.9 - 2.1 m (3 - 6.9 ft) Up to 1.6 m (5.2 ft) 28 - 54 kg (63 - 120 lbs)
Red kangaroo Macropus rufus 0.9 - 2.8 m (3 - 9.1 ft) Up to 2.1 m (6.9 ft) 18 - 70 kg (40 - 150 lbs)
Antilopine kangaroo Macropus antilopinus 0.9 - 2.7 m (3 - 8.9 ft) Up to 1.9 m (6.2 ft) 25 - 70 kg (55 - 150 lbs)

A Red Kangaroo laying down
A Red Kangaroo

Kangaroos are the largest marsupial in the world, and the largest is the Red Kangaroo. It can stand taller than a human at 2 metres (6.5 ft) and can weigh as much as 90 kg's. It can live up to 23 years in the wild. The Eastern Grey Kangaroo is the heaviest marsupial in the world.

A group (collective noun) of kangaroos is generally known as a mob, although you occasionally hear them called a troop or a court. A male kangaroo is called a buck (or a boomer or a jack), a female is called a doe (or a flyer or a jill) and baby kangaroo is called a joey.

A mob (group) of kangaroos
The leader buck of a mob of kangaroos

They are social animals that generally live in groups, that can range in size from as small as 3 or 4 or as large as 100 or more. Mobs are normally ruled by a dominant male, and when a newer younger and stronger male takes control of the mob the older male will leave and live a solitary life. When an older male has just been kicked out of the mob they can have a really bad temper, and they have been known to attack humans without provocation.

Movement

They are the only large animal that use hopping or jumping as their main mode of movement. Kangaroos have powerful hind legs which allow them to move at great speed. They can reach speeds around 60 kilometres (35 miles) an hour, covering up to 8 meters (25 feet) in a single leap. They can also jump around 1.8 meters (6 feet) high, even when not hopping at full speed. They use their strong tails for extra balance while jumping.

Because of the unusual shape of their legs kangaroos find it hard to walk, and it is virtually impossible for them to walk backwards. The kangaroo (and the emu) was chosen as the animals on the Australian coat of arms for this very reason, to symbolise a nation always moving forwards, never backwards.

To move at slow speeds (for example, when grazing on grass), a kangaroo will use its large tail to help form a tripod with its two forelimbs. It then raises its hind feet and places them forward. It is a kind of movement, where the hind legs are not used at all, called "crawl-walking".

On land kangaroos only ever move their hind legs together. When jumping both feet bounce off the ground at the same time and they both land back on the ground at the same time. And the same thing happens when they are "crawl-walking". However, in water they kick each leg independently to swim, just like we do.

Sometimes if a kangaroo is being chased by a dog or a dingo, it will go into water if there is any around. If the other animal follows the kangaroo into the water it will drown it by holding it underwater with its big feet.

Diet

Kangaroos are herbivores, which mean they only eat plants. They are a grazing animal that eat grass, young shoots and leaves off some trees, shrubs and bushes. They do not eat eucalyptus leaves like koalas. They need very little water to survive because they get most of their liquid from what they eat and they can go for several months without drinking any water.

A mob (group) of kangaroos
Kangaroos grazing on grass

They normally rest, usually laying down, in the shade during the hot day and come out to graze in the late afternoon, and into the night, when it is cooler. They also graze early in the morning. This helps to reduce the amount of water they must consume.

Kangaroos live in varied habitats, from forests and woodland areas, grassy plains and savannah, and dry arid areas in the outback. Due to this variety of habitats kangaroos eat a wide range of different grasses and plants.

Kangaroos have a chambered stomach, similar to sheep, cattle, goats, alpacas and antelope. Once they have eaten their food they regurgitate it, chew it as cud, and then swallow it again for final digestion. The digestion of the cellulose takes place in the stomach with the help of symbiotic bacteria. This process helps to digest the hard Australian grass and plants which they feed on.

They also have highly specialised teeth. Their molars (back teeth) fall out on a regular basis from the wear and tear of their plant-based diet, and are replaced with new ones.

Reproduction

Like all marsupials, kangaroos are born extremely early. They normally only have one young per year, but twins have been reported. The female kangaroos can determine the sex of their offspring and can even delay gestation when environmental factors are likely to affect the chance survival.

A female can have in her pouch a larger joey and a newborn baby at the same time, and can also carry in the womb a fertilised egg. Due to all of these factors, kangaroo populations are very stable.

When a baby (joey) is born it is little more than an embryo. It is born without functioning eyes or ears (so they are essentially blind and deaf at birth), but has fully formed limbs. It normally measures around 2cm and weighs less than a gram.

A baby kangaroo (joey) in the pouch of its mother kangaroo
A joey in the pouch of the mother

After birth the mother will lick a trail for the baby up to her pouch, and the blind joey will immediately crawl up the mothers fur to the pouch, following the smell and wetness of the mothers saliva.

The joey then attaches its mouth to one of the four teats. The teat then enlarges, holding the young animal in place. The newborn can't swallow at first and the mum must use her muscles to pump milk into the baby.

After several weeks, the joey becomes more active and gradually spends more and more time outside the pouch, which it leaves completely between 7 and 10 months of age (depending on the species of kangaroo), although they will stay close to their mother for 6 or more months after they finally leave the pouch and will continue to feed from her teat.

When the joey leaves the pouch another baby joey can be born. The mother then produces two types of milk, one for the older joey and another for the new born joey inside the pouch.

Habitats


Red kangaroos

Eastern Grey kangaroos

Kangaroos, as you can see from the map, live in a wide range of areas. These areas include varied habitats, from forests, woodland areas, grassy plains and savannah, deserts and arid places.


Western Grey kangaroos

Antilopine kangaroos

Note: The habitat maps on this page were sourced from these following Wikipedia pages.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Wikipedia)
Red Kangaroo (Wikipedia)
Western Grey Kangaroo (Wikipedia)
Antilopine Kangaroo (Wikipedia)





Other odd & miscellaneous facts about kangaroos

Fossils of a now extinct kangaroo species have been found, and it stood over 3 meters (9.8+ ft) tall.

There is an island in Australia (located in the state South Australia) called Kangaroo Island. Unsurprisingly it is named so because it has large numbers of kangaroos on it.

Kangaroos have good eyesight but only respond to moving objects. This means you can sneak up very close to a kangaroo. If they see you just freeze. After a while it won't realise you are there and will continue doing what it was doing before it saw you.

Two Red Kangaroos
Red kangaroos relaxing

They have excellent hearing and can swivel their large ears in all directions to better pick up sounds.

Kangaroo numbers are increasing throughout Australia. They are now found in greater numbers than prior European settlement due to extra food from the pasture lands for stock (sheep and cattle) and more watering holes (generally farm dams) for them to drink from.

Apart from humans, the only predator to the kangaroo are dingos and crocodiles. However, water plays a much bigger impact on their numbers than predators. When there is drought kangaroo numbers plummet, but when the weather is good their populations explode.

Kangaroos often get caught up in wire fences around farms, the feet of their hind legs can go between the 2 top strands of wire which will twist around the feet as the animal tries to jump over the fence, tightly locking the feet in the wire. The kangaroos are then left hanging upside down where they usually die.

Males fighting for females or dominance of a mob practice a kind of kick boxing, employing both punches and kicks. They have a long and sharp claw on one of their toes, which can be very dangerous, even to humans.

They communicate by making a variety of noises, including grunting, coughing, hissing and clicking noises. However, when a kangaroo senses danger, it alerts others by loudly thumping its feet on the ground, much like a rabbit does (they both have large back feet, coincidence, or one of natures best warning systems)? The other kangaroos are alerted to danger both by the sound that this thumping makes and the vibrations it causes in the ground.

Kangaroos are highly social animals and can often be found in and around parkland and golf courses, although they are rarely found in major cities, unless you visit a zoo!

Kangaroos rarely pose any risk to humans. The odd exception to this is when a male has just lost his dominance of a mob and has been kicked out by a young and stronger male. Although this is rare. What is most dangerous to humans about kangaroos is that they are moving about at night time and it can be easy to hit one in your car if they jump out in front of you. Hitting a full sized kangaroo will certainly wreck your car. They also often come through the front windscreen. A large hurt and angry kangaroo kicking about in the front seat with you is a dangerous situation!

The Western Grey Kangaroo has the nickname "the stinker" because it smells a little like curry.

Aboriginals hunted kangaroos particularly as a source of meat but they also made things from the hides such as bags for carrying water, and other things. They also used to conduct widespread burning programs for the purpose of providing good pasture for kangaroos so they could hunt them with spears or special hunting boomerangs. This way they always knew where they would find wild game.

Today kangaroo hides are used to manufacture a number of items including belts and high quality weather proof hats.

Kangaroos have a very different digestive system to cattle which produce vast quantities of methane which is a very bad greenhouse gas. Kangaroos produce almost no methane which, from that point of view, makes them more desirable as a form of meat.

Today, special breeds of dogs, high powered rifles and at times helicopters are used to hunt kangaroos. Some species of kangaroos are endangered and require protection but others sometimes need to be culled when their numbers get out of control. Special licences are required, people cannot simply go out and shoot a kangaroo. Culled kangaroos were once left where they fell but more and more they are viewed as a valuable resource. While some experimental kangaroo farming has been conducted, most kangaroo meat consumed is from wild stock and will be sold to our local domestic market, to an increasing export market and as pet meat.

Kangaroo meat is one of the healthiest meats you can find. It has virtually no fat and has a large number of different proteins due to the kangaroos varied diet. The meat is high in protein, low in fat (around 2%) and is notably high in CLA, (conjugated linoleic acid) which is recognised for particular health benefits in the areas of diabetes and anti-carcinogens, amongst others.

The sale of kangaroo meat has been legalised throughout Australia only since 1993. Is an important export industry, employing about 4,000 workers and exporting to over 50 countries around the globe.

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