KANGAROO
Macropodidae


 
Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders of Wildlife
1130 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 1-800-385-9712

defenders@mail.defenders.org

STATUS:

Vulnerable, except for the Tasmanian forester kangaroo, which is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

DESCRIPTION:

Kangaroos have powerful hind legs and short, thumbless forelimbs. Kangaroos can travel at speeds up to 30 miles per hour and can leap some 30 feet. Kangaroos use their long tails for balancing. Their bodies are covered in thick, coarse, wooly hair that can be shades of gray, brown or red. Kangaroos are marsupials, which means that females carry newborns, or "joeys," in a pouch on the front of their abdomens.

SIZE:

Red and gray kangaroos stand between five and six feet tall. Most weigh between 50 and 120 pounds, though some can reach 200 pounds. Female kangaroos are generally smaller than males of the same species.

 
POPULATION:

Macropus giganteus (eastern gray kangaroo): 8,978,000.
Macropus fuliginosus (western gray kangaroo): 1,774,000.
Macropus rufus (red kangaroo): 8,351,000.

 
LIFESPAN:

On average, kangaroos live in the wild for six to eight years.

RANGE:

Kangaroos are found in Australia and Tasmania, as well as on surrounding islands.

HABITAT:

Kangaroos live in varied habitats, from forests and woodland areas to grassy plains and savannas.

FOOD:

Kangaroos are grazing herbivores, which means their diet consists mainly of grasses. They can survive long periods without water.

BEHAVIOR:

Kangaroos live and travel in organized groups or "mobs," dominated by the largest male.
OFFSPRING:

Usually, female kangaroos give birth to one joey at a time. Newborns weigh as little as 0.03 ounces at birth. After birth, the joey crawls into its motherís pouch, where it will nurse and continue to grow and develop. Red kangaroo joeys do not leave the pouch for good until they are more than eight months old. Gray kangaroo joeys wait until they are almost a year old.
THREATS:

Humans hunt kangaroos for their meat and hides. Also, the introduction of domestic herbivores, such as sheep, cattle and rabbits increases competition for many plants and may cause food scarcity in times of drought.

PROTECTION:

The Tasmanian forester kangaroo is listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.