Learn All About Kangaroos

Kangaroos are one of the best-known marsupials in Australia.

They feature muscular tails, pointed ears and strong back legs. The female has a pouch where she keeps her young baby until its old enough to come out.

What You Should Know

Because of their large feet and strong legs, the kangaroo can jump 30 feet in a single bound. In one hour, they can travel over 30 miles. The tail is used for balance during jumping.

Kangaroos are found in Eastern Australia. They stay in smaller groups referred to as herds or troops. In Australia, their group is called a mob. Typically this herd consists of 50 or more kangaroos. If they feel threatened, they join together and start pounding on the ground with their feet. Kangaroos can be extremely dangerous, often kicking threats and biting them when necessary.

The kangaroo is a herbivore. It will eat flowers, grass, leaves, moss, insects and ferns. Just like a cow, the kangaroo regurgitates food and then re-chews it before it can be digested fully.

What Sound Do They Make?

Some kangaroos make a soft clucking noise, especially when interacting with a female. Mothers also make this sound when communicating with their young (joey). The most notable noise that a kangaroo is known for is the noise of it thumping away while bouncing.

Listen to these kangaroo sounds while watching some cute pictures.

Group Characteristics

The kangaroo is probably most known for how it carries its young in a pouch. The female kangaroo is pregnant for just 21 to 38 days. Then, she gives birth to up to four little ones at once.

When the joey is born, it only measures 0.2 inches to 0.9 inches or the size of a grain of rice. It stays safely in the pouch for another 120 to 450 days. While in the pouch, the joey receives protection and nurses. It also defecates and urinates directly in the pouch, but the lining absorbs most of it. The mother kangaroo cleans out the rest of the contents with her tongue.

Joeys don’t waste time growing. By the time a female is 14 to 20 months, she will be completely mature. Males take longer at two to four years.

How Many are There?

In 2016, Australia estimated a total of 45 million kangaroos, which was only 27 million back in 2010. Still, 16 species of rat kangaroos and tree kangaroos remain on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Global warming might kill off some of the smallest kangaroo species, but the four great kangaroo species aren’t at risk of becoming endangered.

The only predators that kangaroos face are wild dogs (dingos) and humans. Other than that, drought, heat and hunger seem to be their biggest dangers.

Watch a Video

Watch this fascinating documentary on kangaroos.

Here’s also some amazing footage of a kangaroo fight.

Pop Culture

There have been countless kangaroos in pop culture. Here are just a few you might remember.

  • Roo and Kanga from Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Sour from Horton Hears a Who!
  • Joey from The Penguins of Madagascar (complete with an Australian accent)
  • Hopper the Dish Network mascot

Interesting Facts

When on land, the kangaroo only moves both their hind legs together. However, when the kangaroo is in water, it will swim with each leg kicking independently. In addition, the kangaroo cannot walk backward.

Australia has more kangaroos than humans. It’s a national symbol which means it often appears on airplanes, coins and postage stamps. Even Australian airline Qantas uses the kangaroo as their logo.

The red kangaroo is the biggest marsupial found in the world.