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My Australian kangaroo pictures - with joeys in pouches

Updated on May 21, 2014
LongTimeMother profile image

LTM is an Australian living on a small farm in the bush. When she travels overseas she answers many questions about Australian wildlife.

Kangaroo

This kangaroo is a regular visitor to my home. Probably an old male, it stays at a distance from the rest of the mob and has repeatedly ventured closer than the others.
This kangaroo is a regular visitor to my home. Probably an old male, it stays at a distance from the rest of the mob and has repeatedly ventured closer than the others. | Source

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.

Wallaby

Today I only spotted one wallaby. As you can see, it is much smaller than the kangaroos. Without a tree guard, tiny saplings don't last long around here. :)
Today I only spotted one wallaby. As you can see, it is much smaller than the kangaroos. Without a tree guard, tiny saplings don't last long around here. :) | Source

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

Against a background of dry grass, kangaroos can be quite effectively camouflaged. I spotted this mob just a short walk (or a short hop) from my home.
Against a background of dry grass, kangaroos can be quite effectively camouflaged. I spotted this mob just a short walk (or a short hop) from my home. | Source

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

It is winter in Australia now. These kangaroos are clearly carrying large joeys in their pouches. I was surprised that not one joey was out of its pouch. Clearly some of them are large enough. Perhaps the weather was just too cold.
It is winter in Australia now. These kangaroos are clearly carrying large joeys in their pouches. I was surprised that not one joey was out of its pouch. Clearly some of them are large enough. Perhaps the weather was just too cold. | Source

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.

Non-stop mothering

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

The joey in this kangaroo's pouch is resting close to the ground between her feet when she's standing. Her pouch will lift above the ground when she raises herself on stretched legs to hop away
The joey in this kangaroo's pouch is resting close to the ground between her feet when she's standing. Her pouch will lift above the ground when she raises herself on stretched legs to hop away | Source

A kangaroo mother must have the patience of a saint. :)

Legs made for speed

Kangaroos rest on their long foot, but bounce on just the lower part of the leg when hopping.
Kangaroos rest on their long foot, but bounce on just the lower part of the leg when hopping. | Source

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

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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

The more familiar image of kangaroos. In full flight with tails raised.
The more familiar image of kangaroos. In full flight with tails raised. | Source

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! :)

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    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 4 years ago from Ohio Valley

      This is fascinating! Thank you for writing this! I've never seen kangaroos in the wild like this!

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, vandynegl.

      A lot of Australians live their entire lives in the city and don't get the chance to see kangaroos in their natural habitat either. If ever you visit Australia, make sure you spend some time in the bush. There's so much to see!!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      I liked the facts that you included about the kangaroos and the amazing photos that you were able to capture. Voted up, pinned, and shared !

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, torrilynn. I was glad I had a camera with me. :)

    • profile image

      mjkearn 4 years ago

      Hi LTM

      WOW, stunning pictures and great work on this hub. I had no idea about Kangaroo's and learned loads. Amazing regarding their pouches and the stages of growth.

      Voted up and shared.

      Have a great day.

      MJ.

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      This is one of the most interesting articles I have read! I think kangaroos have always been one of my most favourite creatures in the animal kingdom. The information regarding the difference between the Wallaby and the Kangaroo answered many questions as I was never sure what the differences were. Also, I found the information about the Joeys fascinating! First of all I couldn't believe their size at birth and their growth development is truly incredible. Your images are simply awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, Rose. I still find it hard to believe tiny pinkies can successfully make their way on the marathon journey into the pouch. )

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Hi mjkearn. I've been giving the camera quite a workout recently. Thanks to those of you offering such lovely feedback, I'm inspired to turn more photos into hubs.

      Now if I can just find a few more hours in the day. lol. :)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      As you know, I adore anything that has to do with animals. Thank you SO much for taking the time, trouble, and energy to do this story. It helps me to understand the kangaroo better. Seeing to joey get in the pouch was most informative. Please tell more about your birds and animals.

    • profile image

      Alise- Evon 4 years ago

      That was really fun to read about. Reminds me a bit of white-tailed deer in our area- if one crosses the road in front of you, slow down, there's probably one or two more. You can see several grazing in a field, though; and they can blend in nicely, too, especially in the fall when all is golden like their hair.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, aviannovice. I have just finished a hub about wombats. Not quite as much fun to watch as kangaroos, but unique in their own way. lol.

      Hi Alise-Evon. I'll have to remember that if I'm ever on the road in your part of the world with white-tailed deer. Thanks. :)

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      How cool is this!!! I cannot imagine having this experience...it must be thrilling every time it happens. Lucky you.

      And thanks for all of the information...I learned so much I did not know.

      Angels are on the way this morning ps Pinned

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, pstraubie48. I do enjoy the kangaroos. Trying to photograph them has become a bit of a sport for me.

      When I spot roos or wallabies through my window they always seem to be on the other side of a bush or a fruit tree so I sneak out the door and try to get close enough for a clear shot. Of course I'm fully aware that my family are inside watching me and laughing because they know full well the kangaroos will make their escape before I get my perfect photo ... so I get the giggles as well.

      I was lucky to find a mob in a clearing when I was alone. I didn't have to get too close - and I wasn't laughing! :)

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Well done! I lived in Alice Springs for 3 1/2 years and it was fairly common to see kangaroos and wallabys outside of town.

      One woman in town served as a foster parent for orphaned joeys which she carried with her in a baby pouch. Later as they got bigger, the young ones were in her fenced yard.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia

      As a resident of Alice you would have seen lots of Australian wildlife, Virginia!

      I've known a few wildlife rescuers over the years - all a little eccentric. lol. I know one who is a school teacher and takes baby animals to school with her so she can feed them every couple of hours. She wears her pouch in class. :)

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