Australian Marsupials - Kangaroo

A beautiful majestic looking Eastern Gray Kangaroo with it's baby Joey in her pouch!
A beautiful majestic looking Eastern Gray Kangaroo with it's baby Joey in her pouch!

The Kangaroo is a uniquely Australian animal. It may surprise you to know that there are over 50 kinds of animals that can be described as Kangaroos. Starting from one of the smallest which is arguably the potoroo or Rat Kangaroo through the Wallaby species right up to the big boy of the Kangaroo family - Red Kangaroo, the male can grow to stand over 6 feet (close on 2 metres) and weighing in at 200 pound (close on 90 kg) the female Red Roo is nowhere near the size of the male of the species.

Kangaroos are also marsupials. This means that the female raises its young in a pouch attached to the Mother Kangaroo's tummy! The embryonic joey has no back legs and starts on a journey that could cost it it's life.

The Mother Kangaroo sensing birth is imminent assumes a position on it's back with it legs apart and Tummy exposed. The joey is born normally (sort of) and then the journey of a life time begins !

A baby Joey after clawing its way up it's Mum tummy safely in the pouch suckling mums milk.
A baby Joey after clawing its way up it's Mum tummy safely in the pouch suckling mums milk.

A Joey's first trip. An amazing journey and fraught with danger!

When the baby Kangaroo (Joey) is born it is hairless and blind and still very much in an embryonic state. In this state it has  to survive a journey that it  alone can travel. If the Joey falls there is no help it will die!

Somehow through instinct they climb up , it has been likened to swimming, as the mother will lick the fur and the joey to keep it moist, and somehow manage to find there way to a 'pouch' situated on the Mothers tummy. The journey over a distance of approximately 20cm can take up to 3 minutes to complete!

Once In the pouch the Joey will find a 'teat' (one of four) and feeds on it's mothers milk coming from this teat until it reaches enough maturity to venture away from the pouch. It is believed that the teat swells in the Joey's mouth so that it does not lose contact. Even when the young Joey leaves the pouch they can still be seen suckling from their Mother.

The Joey will remain in it's mum's pouch from anywhere between 6 and 12 months and is accomplished by Mum Kangaroo releasing the muscles of her pouch and the ungainly Joey spilling onto the ground in a not very graceful manner.

The first outing of the Joey is usually short and it climbs back into the safety of mums pouch until Mum thinks it is time to try again.

The Bennett's Wallaby needs to have fur that is long and thick to survive the cold winters
The Bennett's Wallaby needs to have fur that is long and thick to survive the cold winters

Kangaroo or Wallaby

Some people have asked what is the difference between a Kangaroo and a Wallaby?

Ok here is the explanation as best I can do!  All of these animals belong to the family called 'Macropods' which simply means 'big feet'. The difference then is in the weight of the animal.

Any 'Macro Pod' species that measures in weight under 20kg is regarded as a Wallaby, this smaller species includes 'rock wallabies', 'Swamp Wallaby' and 'Quokkas'.  There is another species smaller than the Wallaby and is prefixed with 'rat'

Species that weigh over 20kg are referred to as Kangaroos and includes such species as: Red Kangaroo, Grey Kangaroo

Kangaroo or Wallaby

Any 'Macro Pod' species that measures in weight under 20kg is regarded as a Wallaby, this smaller species includes 'rock wallabies', 'Swamp Wallaby' and 'Quokkas'. There is another species smaller than the Wallaby and is prefixed with 'rat'

Species that weigh over 20kg are referred to as Kangaroos and includes such species as: Red Kangaroo, Grey Kangaroo

Kangaroos are quite a spectacle to watch as they Hop at full speed in the Australian bush.
Kangaroos are quite a spectacle to watch as they Hop at full speed in the Australian bush.

Kangaroo Mobility

Kangaroos when they graze move around using all four legs and their tail for balance.

However when they decide to get somewhere in a hurry it is a whole new game plan! They 'Hop'

It is estimated that the 'cruising' speed of one of the larger Red Kangaroos can be somewhere up around the 15-20 miles per hour (24-32km/hour) mark. This is due to it's powerful hind legs and huge tail.

The big Red Kangaroo has been clocked at 40 miles per hour( 64km/hr) in short bursts and can cover 35 feet (10.7metres) in one of its long 'hops'

The Australian Coat of Arms features a Kangaroo and an Emu
The Australian Coat of Arms features a Kangaroo and an Emu
Kangaroo Steak served up with Salad
Kangaroo Steak served up with Salad

Interesting facts about Kangaroos and Wallabies

Here are some interesting facts that you may not know about the Australian Marsupials, Kangaroos and Wallabies:

  • The Kangaroo image along with the Emu appears on the Australian Coat of Arms.
  • Although it has been a source of food for our indigenous Australian throughout the ages, it has only been legal to eat Kangaroo meat in Australia since 1980. I have never tried it myself but it is said to be sweeter than beef and much healthier being high in protein and only about 2% fat content.
  • Kangaroo 'leather' is a great alternative to other materials.
  • Is there any other country that eats the animal that is on it's Coat of Arms ?
  • Due to a particular bacteria in their stomach the farts and burps of Kangaroos are free of methane gas. So unlike cows and sheep Kangaroos are non-polluters.
  • You may fear that the Joey will fall out of the pouch. Well fear not! The mother Kangaroo has a row of muscles across the top part of the pouch which she can tension or let loose whenever she feels like. She has such control that she can relax just enough for the joey to pop his head out and get no further.
  • Kangaroos have the ability to 'suspend' their pregnancy. When mum Kangaroo already has a Joey or in bad conditions like droughts the pregnancy can be put on 'pause' until conditions improve.
  • Considering the dryness of Australia Kangaroos are very fortunate that they require very little water to survive, they have been compared to camels. It is believed that a Kangaroo can get enough moisture from vegetation to keep it going and losing up to one fifth of its body weight will do no long term damage!
  • Kangaroos are grazers and have thin sharp teeth so that they can feed on the short grass that is the only food sometimes available to them in bad drought times. The interesting thing is that as their teeth wear out they move towards the front of the mouths and fall out being replace by new teeth moving out from the back. It is believed that they get 16 new molars throughout their life.
  • Kangaroos have very sensitive hearing and seem to be always twitching their ears. They have the ability to rotate their large ears independently and can turn them 180 degrees if so required.

Kangaroos Fighting

Two male Kangaroos testing each other out for 'alpha' dominance!
Two male Kangaroos testing each other out for 'alpha' dominance!
A Kangaroo Foot showing a large claw on the toe!
A Kangaroo Foot showing a large claw on the toe!

I have often been asked if Kangaroos are dangerous? My answer is always the same. "Never trust an animal in the wild" If the question was "Can a Kangaroo hurt you?" I would say to you "My Bloody Oath"

With it's huge back toes and large claw on each foot a Kangaroo can rear up, balance on it's tail and strike you a massive blow down your body. You must remember these marsupials can grow to 7 feet tall so at full stretch they are taller than a man.  The two Kangaroos fighting in the picture indicate this and they appear to be trying to establish who will be the "Head of the Mob" or the "Alpha Male' as it is often called!

Kangaroos are believed to be quite smart. I have anecdotal evidence that when being harassed by a dog a Kangaroo lured the dog into a dam and when the dog attacked the roo in the water the roo grabbed the dog with its front legs and rearing up balanced on it's tail and with it's rear claws cut open the dogs stomach.

I must add though that in captivity Roos are usually quite timid and get on well with the Human race. Even in the bush they tend to not be aggressive and when approached will generallly run away.

Kangaroo Experiences

Have you ever had a eye to eye experience with a Kangaroo

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Comments 51 comments

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 6 years ago from Tennessee

voted up and beautiful! very well written and informative. Would love to come to your country and experience the wildlife and the lovely people...


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

samsons1 thanks for your nice comment. I think the Kangaroo is one of the most misunderstood animal on this earth. Mate you would love my country I am in 'awe' of the beauty of Australia, every day I uncover something else I did not know and would love to share with everyone.

Thanks again for the comment:-)


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

What a great hub. I like the layout, images etc and it was a really interesting read. Kangaroos are great looking creatures.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Beautiful hub, ag. Now I know much more about roos than I did before. Wrote 10 hubs on Weird Animals but never included kangaroos because they are may be very different, but to me they are not weird.

In fact, the whole process of the newborn and blind joey finding its mother's pouch is amazing.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

This was a great read and I feel sure many people are interested to know more about the amazing kangaroo.

I did not realise how many different roos there are until I read your hub. Thanks mate!

Kangaroos rock!!


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

@ethel smith, thanks for your very kind words. As an Australian I am very pleased that you find our Kangaroo an interesting animal. I think we here take them a bit for granted!


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

@drbj, thanks so much for your kind comment it is greatly appreciated :-) I will check out your Weird Animals Hubs, I love animals in the wild and believe it is cruel to keep them locked in cages. While I was doing the research on Kangaroos I found so much info that I did not know myself that I felt a bit ashamed of my ignorance.

I also find it amazing that a joey is born blind and with no hind legs and by instinct alone can find its way into it's mum pouch.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

@earnestshub, I agree with you Kangaroos Rock :-)

Thanks for your kind words, coming from a great Aussie bushy such as yourself your comment is much appreciated.

It is truly amazing to think that there are over 50 types of these animals spanning such a huge range in size!

As you say and worth repeating:

Kangaroos Rock !!!!


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

Mama kangaroos come with a ziploc pouch? Truly, nature is wonderful! :)


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

LOL that is very funny 'ziploc pouch' :-)

What I did not say in the Hub is that the teats of the Mama Kangaroos all have different flavors so that the Joey can 'eat-in' (so to speak) till it has grown enough to survive using its own resources!

Ziploc Pouch (gotta love it, only my FFF could come up with that!)


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

Tell me one of those flavours is chocolate! :)


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Hmm chocolate you ask? I cannot verify that but if you are interested I can introduce you to a Kangaroo and let you try. I'm sure you would enjoy the experience of being in a Pouch with a joey?

Chocolate flavored Kangaroo Milk. Maybe we could start a Franchise. Kinda like "McKangaroo's"


wilbury steve profile image

wilbury steve 6 years ago from Great Wakering, England

Great hub! I didn't realize there were so many varieties of kangaroo. Love the picture of the baby joey too!! A really interesting read. cheers!! :-)


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks wilbury steve :-) This was also a surprise to me to find out about the varieties.

I had heard of these animals just did not know they were Kangaroos. When you realize what the joey has to go through just to get a drink it is a wonder that there are so many of them.

Apparently if the Joey falls off the mum Kangaroo 'thats it' goodnight joey, it can only survive a short while outside of the pouch.

The mum cannot or will not help it get back on board!

Thanks a lot for taking the time to drop in and read about about our Kangaroos!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

I tried to sail a 50' bamboo raft to Sydney from Fiji... Never made it. Another time, I will visit... Good information...


gramarye profile image

gramarye 6 years ago from Adelaide - Australia

A really good hub here! I am surprised that you have not eaten kangaroo - it is really nice. Have a look at my hub http://hubpages.com/food/Australians-eat-kangaroo for a great recipe! BTW when I visited Santa's North Pole, I ate reindeer at the restaurant there!


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

@dallas, a 50' bamboo raft, are you crazy? You do know that we have airplanes that fly here :-) Oh and big ships now :-)

Hey we would make you welcome here in Australia and there will still be plenty of Kangaroos and Wallabys to see when you arrive. Thanks for your visit to my Hub :-)


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

@gramarye, thanks for your kind comment :-)

I love my meat but when I look at the face of a beautiful Kangaroo I just would feel so guilty eating the meat.

Oh my how could you eat a cousin of Rudolph lol I think I will stick to my beef and lamb. Although a bit of Rabbit now and again is very tasty for a change.


PaperNotes profile image

PaperNotes 6 years ago

Oh wow, this is really very interesting read. I cannot remember if I have seen a kangaroo in a zoo when I was just a little girl, but I am pretty sure that today I'd like to see one but not get too close to it. Do kangaroos punch?


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

PaperNotes thanks for dropping by :-) I would advise anyone not to get to close to a Kangaroo in the wild. They like to protect their own territory but more than likely run away from you unless they were protecting their joey.

Yes Kangaroos do punch and often fight each other in that way. They are more dangerous when they balance on their tail and kick with their rear feet using that very vicious looking nail on the big toe!


sunforged profile image

sunforged 6 years ago from Sunforged.com

I never would have thought to delve into Kangaroo's, Im glad my attention was caught by this hub, its really interesting. I love the kangaroo fight photo! Muscles in the pouch! never even considered the mechanics of that.

Really an impressive animal, and it is a but odd that you your national animal is also a foodstuff!


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

So much useful information here agulvipes. I love kangaroos ...particularly the way they move. I could watch their elegant jumping for hours.

The big ones can be a bit intimidating though.I used to live near a bush track and when, I would go for a walk, occasionally a kangaroo would suddenly appear out of the bush. Usually we'd have a nervous stare-off and then go our separate ways.

Cheers


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

@sunforged, well I guess off the top of the head Kangaroos are not the first thing that may come to mind lol and I'm glad it caught your attention as well, I do try to make my Hubs interesting if nothing else!

Yeah muscles in the pouch as FP says Kangaroos come with their own built in Ziploc. I also find it rather odd that we eat our national animal and personally for that very reason I will not eat the meat of a Kangaroo.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

@Jane Bovary thanks so much for dropping by and leaving a nice comment on our Kangaroos. They are so graceful to watch, they seem to float across the terrain with no obvious effort! Yes the big Kangaroos can be quite intimidating but usually they are not aggressive and will just go on their way if met. It is only if they feel endangered or their Joey is threatened that they will show any sort of fight! Just make sure you don't come between Mum and the Joey and you should be OK.


Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 6 years ago

A very interesting and fascinating hub! I didn't know there were so many kinds of kangaroos. Love the picture of the little joey enjoying the milk. Thanks for helping us explore Australia!


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Rose thanks very much for taking the time out to read my Hub on Kangaroos. We in Australia tend to take the old Kangaroo for granted but as you can see in the Hub they are indeed a fascinating animal or marsupial.

Thanks again for dropping by!


Astra Nomik profile image

Astra Nomik 6 years ago from Edge of Reality and Known Space

This is good advice. I will stay away from Kangaroos, except for any ones I see in the Zoo. (That's if there are any on London Zoo) Great hub. Thanks. :)


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

I'm sure that the London Zoo is sure to have at least one Kangaroo or Wallaby.

Thanks so much for your kind comment:-)


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England

well written and informative hub about one of my favourite animals. Photographs are fantastic.Rated up.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

D.A.L. thanks for dropping by! Your kind comment is very much appreciated.


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 6 years ago from Northam Western Australia

You sure have covered everything from birth to eating and all. Loved the pics especially of the fighting Kangas. They can be ferocious when it suits them. Thanks for sharing


MayG profile image

MayG 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

Gorgeous Hub, great pictures. I grew up in country Victoria, and for a couple of years, there were just hundreds of kangaroos out our way. The thrill of seeing them bounding across the paddocks as we walked to the school bus stop, or seeing the odd one in our front garden, never wore off. A lot of our neighbours used to hunt them, not even for food, just for fun. I think they were considered pests because there were just so many of them, but how could you shoot such a gorgeous animal?


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Eileen, thanks for dropping by and thanks for your nice comment. I sure would not trust any Kangaroo up close, especially one in the wild. They can rip you from stem to stern with that big claw, as quick as a wink!

I bet that you have seen many big Roos in your long travels ?


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

May, thanks heaps for dropping by and leaving such a great comment :-)

You are so right about the sight of seeing a mob of Kangaroos in full flight. I have only seen it myself on a couple of occasions and it was breathtaking to say the least. There are a lot of country golf courses that have resident Kangaroos and late in the day you have to 'very carefully' shoo the Roos from the Greens to carry on your game.

I agree with you about killing animals! Any activity that entails killing an animal should not be called 'sport'. Although I don't have any objection about killing animals for food.

May, thanks again for dropping by and leaving such a nice comment :-)


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 6 years ago from Midwest

Very interesting and well written. I have always been curious about kangaroos.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Karen thank you for taking the time to read my hub on one of our much loved Australian Marsupials - the Kangaroo!

I am so pleased that you found it interesting. :-)


Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 5 years ago

Interesting info! The last picture (toe) actually looks like he is "giving the finger, flipping the bird, etc". Maybe kangaroos have a sense of humor too.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

G'day Truckstop Sally. Yes I agree with your 'flippin the bird suggestion, it is probably the original 'giving the finger' lol

There is one thing for sure though, if you got the finger from a kangaroo you would know about it !

Sense of humor? Definitely!

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a nice comment :-)


teresa8go profile image

teresa8go 5 years ago from Michigan, USA

Aaah, my second favorite marsupial. I just made a very strange observation about Roos. I was looking at their small arms and realized they have several of the same characteristics as the T-Rex did. They both have small arms, big hind legs and feet, long sturdy tails, and three toes on each foot. Hmmm. I wonder if they could be related? I said it was strange observation didn't I? LOL


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

Yes I find it an interesting observation and it got me doing some further research of my own.

This is what I have uncovered comparing the two. They do look similar in construction but here are some differences. T-Rex walked / Kangaroos Hop. T-Rex stands on it's feet/ Kangaroo at rest sit on their legs. T-Rex were not marsupials/Kangaroos are marsupials. T-rex comes from the Family:Tyrannosauridae/ Kangaroos are from Family:Macropodidae.

So although they appear similar they do not appear to be related.

Thanks for prodding me to do some more research your comment is much appreciated :-)


teresa8go profile image

teresa8go 5 years ago from Michigan, USA

Sure I know they are not really related biologically. You can chalk it up to a poor attempt at humor on my part. Sorry you did more research. :(

I don't know if you believe in the theory of creation or evolution or intelligent design or something else but, when I made that observation it crossed my mind that it looked like somebody said "Okay, T-Rex was a mistake but it looked kinda cool. So why don't we make an herbavore that looks similar to a T-Rex with a few differences. Give it a head too small for it body......." ... so on and so forth.

You can say it if you want. I already know some pretty srtange ideas pop into my brain. LOL


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

LOL - got me there lol. A bit like the camel being designed by a 'committee'?

As far as how we got here I still, after over 70 years of being around, have not come to any definite opinion and I can be very opinionated at times lol

My own imagination tells me that there is too much order in the universe for it to have happened just by chance. Taking religion out of the discussion I can't see why there cannot be a mixture of creation and evolution?


teresa8go profile image

teresa8go 5 years ago from Michigan, USA

>"A bit like the camel being designed by a 'committee'?"

LOL. I've never heard that. I'm going to have to remember it. ;)

I am particularly fond of a quote by Lazarus Long, a character created by Robert A. Heinlein. It goes .... "An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications."


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

Ah yes another animal designed by 'committee' lol

Reminds me of the old joke:

What's Grey and has a Trunk?

Give up ?

A mouse going on a holiday!


teresa8go profile image

teresa8go 5 years ago from Michigan, USA

:D LOL


isha pradhan 5 years ago

got lot of help in geography.

Thanks.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

isha thanks for the kind comment I'm glad I could help!

How about them Australian Marsupials,the Kangaroo ?


Mike Robbers profile image

Mike Robbers 3 years ago from London

Nice hub and many interesting information about an amazing marsupial. Great hub!


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 3 years ago from Australia Author

G'day Mike and thanks for the visit and the nice comment!

The marsupials that we have here in Australia, which include the Kangaroo, are really amazing :)


dis-cover profile image

dis-cover 2 years ago from Serbia, Belgrade

Thank you for sharing this great hub with us. I have seen a kangaroo only in a zoo. They are so lovely. I have always been curious about this animal, so now I found some extra answers. Voted up!!!


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 2 years ago from Australia Author

@dis-cover thanks for the visit. There is nothing like seeing an animal in it's natural inviroment and these Kangaroos are magnificent to see, especially when a herd of Kangaroos are in a full run, it is a sight to see :)

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