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Kangaroos - Cute or Creepy?
How do you feel about Kangaroos?
What is a Kangaroo?
Australian Kangaroos are marsupials, meaning that their babies are born very young and continue growing within a pouch. A kangaroo’s baby is called a ‘joey’.
The Kangaroo is perhaps the most widely recognised of Australia’s unique wildlife. Kangaroos belong to the family of Macropods, which means ‘great footed’ and there are more than 60 different species.
Kangaroos are found throughout Australia and inhabit tropical, arid dessert area, beaches, alpine locations and most areas in between.
The kangaroo’s large tail is used for balance as it hops along on its very strong back legs. Larger Kangaroo species can cover long distances in a short time, and can leap up to 8 metres in a single bound when travelling at speed.
A stylised version of the kangaroo is proudly displayed on the tail section of the Qantas fleet of aircraft and this no doubt enhances the Kangaroos recognition around the world.
Kangaroos have been an important food source to Aboriginal people for many thousands of years. The kangaroo tail is considered a delicacy when roasted over an open fire. Europeans also saw the value in this animal for its hide and for food, and hunted Kangaroo when they first arrived in Australia for their own survival.
These days Kangaroo meat is considered a healthy choice at meal times, and can be found in many top restaurants as it is highly prized as a low fat, low cholesterol meat. Although it is not widely used by the general population, it is however available through larger supermarket chains throughout the country and marketed as a healthy choice due to its very low fat content.
In favourable conditions when there is plenty of feed, kangaroos can multiple at an alarming rate. This often causes problems for graziers who need the feed to sustain the cattle and sheep. A plague of kangaroos can desimate a farmers grazing land in a matter of a few days. When these circumstances occur, it is sadly sometimes necessary to conduct culling procedures where large numbers of Kangaroos are humanely destroyed. This is usually done with a high powered rifle which is operated from a helicopter, or from a 4WD vehicle on the ground at night using a spotlight to identify the target species.
It is a contentious issue that always draws an outspoken response from animal liberation experts against such practices. The fact remains however that the beef and lamb industries would almost certainly cease to exist if large numbers of Kangaroos in plague proportions were not reduced.
Large Eastern Grey Kangaroo
A Kangaroos Diet
What do Kangaroos Eat?
The Kangaroo is a herbivore, meaning that they eat a range of plants.
When grassland is green and plentiful due to good rainfall, Kangaroos multiply in vast numbers, and are considered a pest in some areas. They are able to breed all year round and can quadruple in numbers over a 5 year period.
In large numbers they are capable of destroying crops and cattle grazing properties with devastating effects for farmers. At times it is necessary to cull these large numbers to maintain the viability of vast tracks of farmlands, mostly in region areas of Outback Australia. (see more about this topic in the section above).
Where can I See a Kangaroo?
Kangaroos are plentiful in Australia and it is not uncommon to see them in their natural environment in country areas, or less populated beach side areas. They are mostly nocturnal, but are also active in the early morning and late afternoon, when they pose a danger for the unwary driver on the roads in country areas.
Cars in Australia are often fitted with ‘roo-bars’ to give added protection from a head on collision with a Kangaroo. Kangaroos make up part of the exhibits in every zoo and wildlife park in Australia, so if you can’t get to the regional areas, you will no doubt find them on display in Australian city sanctuaries and zoos, such as Lone Pine Sactuary in Brisbane, Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney or Werribee Park in Melbourne.