The kangaroo is one of the best known and most popular animals in Australia. The large marsupial is found exclusively in Australia and as a tree kangaroo in New Guinea. Although it is difficult to determine the exact population of kangaroos in Down Under, it is estimated that there are more than 50 million of these skipping fellows across the country – that’s more kangaroos than residents!

Special features of the kangaroo

  • The kangaroo is nocturnal and very sociable. It lives in a group.
  • Kangaroo balances with its tail while it bounces. The kangaroo can jump up to 3 meters high and 8 meters wide.
  • The kangaroo is vegetarian
  • The name of the kangaroo is derived from a word of the Aboriginal language: “Gangurru” It is said that Europeans once asked the indigenous people what the animal was called. The natives responded with “Gangurru” – which means “I do not understand”. John B. Haviland ascertained the origin of the word in his studies of the language of the “Guugu Yimidhirr” people.
  • There are 4 different kangaroo species. The best known is the red kangaroo. The male can grow up to 1.80 meters and weigh up to 85 kilos. Others are the Eastern Grey, Western Grey, and the Wallaroo. Including wallabies, there are about 45 species of the “kangaroo superfamily”.
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Kangaroos and their babies

The baby kangaroo is called Joey.

As a marsupial, the kangaroo gives birth to newborns in the embryo state. The embryos are just 4 weeks old and don’t measure more than 2 cm. The embryo climbs directly into the mother’s pouch, which has four teats. Depending on the stage of development of the small kangaroo, these teats provide different types of milk. The baby clings to the teats and does not leave the pouch until it can feed itself (about 5 to 6 months later).

A kangaroo can have up to three babies at a time. One in the womb, one in the pouch, and one that has already left the pouch.

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Where do kangaroos live?

The Red Kangaroos prefer a dry climate and flat open plains, he ranges throughout western and central Australia. Eastern Greys can be found from Cape York to Tasmania. The Western Greys are usually found from Western Australia to Victoria, those creatures prefer denser vegetation.

Antilopine Kangaroos live across northern Australia and the Common Wallaroos are found everywhere in Australia, mainly in rocky outcrops.

The Black Wallaroo is threatened from extinction. The few that are left can be found in the Northern Territory.

For more information on wildlife in Australia, see our Australian Wildlife category

Updated on the 04/03/2020. Initially published on the 01/03/2019.

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