My Australian kangaroo pictures - with joeys in pouches
What's the difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby?
- Wallabies are much smaller than kangaroos.
- The largest wallaby would measure about 6 feet (180 cm) from the top of its head to the tip of its tail.
- Wallabies rarely stand taller than 12 to 36 inches, where kangaroos can stand up to 8 feet tall.
- Wallabies also have more colour variation. Kangaroos tend to be red or grey.
- Species of wallabies tend to be grouped according to habitat (eg brush wallabies, rock wallabies and shrub wallabies) - obviously rock wallabies live in a rocky habitat.
- Baby wallabies are called joeys, the same as baby kangaroos.
- Wallabies are more agile than kangaroos in forests and on rocky ground, but kangaroos have greater speed on open land.
Kangaroo and wallaby pictures in the wild
There's a big difference between taking a photo of a kangaroo or wallaby in a zoo or wildlife park, and taking pictures of kangaroos in the wild.
Occasionally you get lucky and find a mob of kangaroos will be happy to watch you watching them - but in my experience it doesn't take long for the first kangaroo to startle, quickly followed by the rest of the mob as they take off for a more private spot.
A familiar mob of kangaroos visits the land adjoining our home (and occasionally ventures onto our property to nibble the tops from native bushes), but I rarely get a chance to photograph them.
Even when I'm carrying a camera, after the first click they are beating a hasty retreat.
Today, however, I had a change of fortune. Here are my photos.
Mob of kangaroos
Kangaroos travel as a mob
If one kangaroo hops across the road in front of your car in Australia, it is a good idea to slow down and watch for the next one.
Kangaroos rarely travel solo. The average mob size ranges from 10 to 100 kangaroos although when they cross country (or cross roads) there may be three or four hopping in close proximity.
The full size of the mob may not be obvious until they settle at the next rest area.
Good year for joeys
Did you know?
- Muscular action squirts milk from the teat into the baby's mouth. Newborn kangaroos are so immature they do not have the ability to suck.
- Once the newborn latches on, the teat increases in size. This helps anchor the baby within the pouch.
- Female kangaroos can have three joeys in different stages of development at any given time.
More about Australian wildlife
- Australian Animals - pictures from my yard
Australian native wildlife often visits my back yard. These photos include echidna and deadly Brown Snake in my yard last summer.
- What is a Wombat?
You've probably heard of Australia's wombats, but how much do you know about them? I live in wombat territory. Here's my observations.
There are four teats in a kangaroo's pouch and each teat provides milk independently for the different stages of development. Attachment to the teats helps keep joeys firmly in place during movement of the mother.
The newborn joey (extremely immature and ranging in size at birth from as small as a grain of rice to the size of a jelly bean) makes its way into the kangaroo mother's pouch and attaches to a teat where most of its development takes place.
The joey remains in the pouch for nine months but continues to suckle for a further three to eight months.
Kangaroos can have 3 babies at different stages of development at one time.
As one reaches maturity and leaves the pouch, another can be developing in the pouch and a third can still be an embryo. (Nature provides a 'pause' mode for kangaroo embryos.)
Occasionally we see kangaroos with twins.
Kangaroo pouch nearly touches the ground
A kangaroo mother must have the patience of a saint. :)
Legs made for speed
Kangaroos hop - and jump
To hop is to move by leaping with all feet off the ground, (or in the case of humans, to jump with just one foot on the ground.)
Strange how people tend to talk about kangaroos hopping along a road or across a paddock, but the same movement is called jumping when a fence is involved.
Male kangaroos can jump (and hop) up to 10 feet high (3 metres), and can cover 30 feet (9 metres) in a single bound. Female kangaroos are not far behind them.
Kangaroo climbing under a fence
Kangaroos don't always jump
Given their ability to jump significant heights, it always seems a little odd to see a kangaroo bending down and squeezing its form beneath a fence, but it is surprisingly common for kangaroos to pass beneath or through gaps in wire fencing.
Kangaroos at full speed can travel up to 40 mph (60 kph) so I suspect once they've set a quick pace they'd be more likely to simply jump over an obstacle like a fence. Not much chance they'd grind to a halt looking for a gap they could squeeze through.
However, when startled and beginning their escape, kangaroos often jump along a fence looking for an escape route.
This is the first time I've ever photographed the process. :)
Why kangaroos can hop so far and so fast
Unlike animals who rely on muscular effort to move their legs, kangaroos use elastic strain energy in the large elastic tendons in their hind legs. Increasing speed requires very little extra effort which is helpful in Australia where droughts and large areas of infertile land can require kangaroos to travel long distances between feeds.
The metabolism of a kangaroo allows it to survive for long periods without water and, by some strange quirk of nature, hopping actually assists a kangaroo's breathing.
As a kangaroo's feet lift from the ground, air is expelled from the lungs. As it brings its feet forward for landing, its lungs refill.
The long muscular tail is used for balance and to help change direction while the roo is mobile, and helps support its weight when stationary.
Kangaroos in motion
Is any image linked more with Australia?
The logo of Australia's major airline Qantas is the 'flying kangaroo'. Essentially it is a picture of an Australian kangaroo in motion.
Many of Australia's native animals are readily recognized around the world, but none as quickly as the kangaroo.
I never tire of seeing kangaroos near my home. I even forgive them when they occasionally flatten my vegetable gardens.
That's how much I enjoy having them around! :)