Kangaroos possess powerful hind legs, a long, strong tail, and small front legs. Kangaroos belong to the animal family Macropus, literally "big foot." Thanks to their large feet, kangaroos can leap some 30 feet (9 meters) in a single bound, and travel more than 30 miles (48 kilometers) per hour.
- Common Name:
- Red Kangaroo
- Scientific Name:
- Macropus rufus
- Group Name:
- Average Life Span In The Wild:
- Up to 23 years
- Head and body: 3.25 to 5.25 feet; tail: 35.5 to 43.5 inches
- 200 pounds
Kangaroos use their strong tails for balance while jumping. They are the tallest of all marsupials, standing over 6 feet tall.
Kangaroos live in Eastern Australia. They live in small groups called troops or herds (“mobs” by Australians), typically made up of 50 or more animals. If threatened, kangaroos pound the ground with their strong feet in warning. Fighting kangaroos kick opponents, and sometimes bite.
Female kangaroos sport a pouch on their belly, made by a fold in the skin, to cradle baby kangaroos called joeys. Newborn joeys are just one inch long (2.5 centimeters) at birth, or about the size of a grape. After birth, joeys travel, unassisted, through their mom’s thick fur to the comfort and safety of the pouch. A newborn joey can’t suckle or swallow, so the kangaroo mom uses her muscles to pump milk down its throat. At around 4 months, the joey emerges from the pouch for short trips and to graze on grass and small shrubs. At 10 months, the joey is mature enough to leave the pouch for good.
Besides humans and wild dogs called dingoes, kangaroos face few natural predators. Heat, drought, and hunger due to vanishing habitat are the biggest dangers kangaroos face.