This page contains red kangaroo facts for kids (and adults). Let’s find out all about the world’s largest marsupial …
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Red Kangaroo Quick Facts
- Other names: Males: Buck, boomer. Females: Doe, blue flyer
- Scientific name: Macropus rufus
- Type of Animal: Marsupial (a mammal that carries its young in a pouch)
- Animal Family: Macropodidae
- Where Found: Australia
- Height: 0.85m to 1.8m (2.8 to 5.9ft.) Males are taller than females.
- Weight: 20 to 90kg (44 to 198lb.) Males are much heavier than females.
- Average Life Span: 23 years
- Conservation Status: Least Concern
- Interesting fact: Kangaroos are very good swimmers!
You can see amazing footage of kangaroos fighting in the video below:
Meet The Red Kangaroo: Introduction
The red kangaroo (along with all other types of kangaroo) is a marsupial. Marsupials are mammals whose young are carried in special pouches in the mother’s body after being born.
Kangaroos are only found in the wild in Australia. Not only is the red kangaroo the largest living kangaroo and the largest living marsupial … it’s also the largest land mammal in Australia!
The red kangaroo is found in the wild across most of mainland Australia. Typical red kangaroo habitats include deserts and open grasslands.
How To Recognize A Red Kangaroo
The red kangaroo is a tall animal with long, pointed ears. It stands on two powerful hind limbs, and has large feet. It is a member of the macropodae family; macropodae means ‘large feet’.
Males are much larger than females and the biggest are imposing, muscular animals that can reach 2 m (6.5 ft.) in height.
The red kangaroo’s tail is thick and very strong. It provides stability when the kangaroo is standing and jumping, and can be up to 1.2m (3.9ft.) in length.
The red kangaroo’s tail is strong enough to support its weight. When fighting, the kangaroo stands on its tail while kicking out with its legs.
The male red kangaroo has a red-brown coat, while the female’s is more of a blue-gray color. The blue-tinged coat of the females has earned them the nickname “blue fliers”.
The red kangaroo can be distinguished from other species of kangaroo by a distinctive broad white stripe that runs from the corner of the mouth to the ear.
How Fast Do Kangaroos Jump?
Kangaroos don’t walk, they jump. It’s a surprisingly efficient means of travel, especially on the open, flat terrain that kangaroos inhabit.
Red kangaroos can travel extremely quickly, and have been recorded at speeds of 43 mph (70 km/h). They can cover up to 9 m (30 ft.) in one bound. Their average speed is around 14 mph (22 km/h).
The achilles tendon in the red kangaroo’s strong hind legs works like a rubber band. It stretches when the animal is low on the ground, then releases its stored energy when the kangaroo jumps.
The faster a kangaroo is moving, the more efficient its jumping becomes. At top speed, 70% of its energy is recycled.
What Does A Red Kangaroo Eat?
The red kangaroo is a herbivore. It mainly eats green vegetation, particularly fresh grass but also flowering plants, leaves and ferns. Like a cow, a red kangaroo regurgitates its food and chews it again, thereby improving the digestive process.
Red kangaroos typically live in small groups of 4 to 10 members, most commonly consisting of females and their young. Kangaroos groom each other, and young males engage in play fights.
A group of kangaroos is known as a ‘mob’.
In areas with a good food supply much larger groups can form. These large groups are made up of males and females, and can contain as many as 1,500 kangaroos.
Life In A Kangaroo Mob
The red kangaroo breeds throughout the year, most probably due to the relatively good weather all year round. Males fight with other males to establish dominance within a group.
When two male kangaroos fight it is known as “boxing” because the adversaries square up to each other and throw punches just like human boxers.
However, there are no rules in kangaroo boxing: these brutal battles also involve wrestling, scratching and kicking.
The best fighter gets his pick of the females!
Red Kangaroo Joeys
Normally a female kangaroo will produce only one baby, which is known as a joey, at a time. The pregnancy lasts for around a month, and when the baby is born it can be as small as a grain of rice.
The newborn joey is blind and hairless, and is usually between 0.2 and 0.9 inches (5 and 25mm) in length. It crawls through the mother’s fur into her pouch, where it feeds on her milk.
After around five months the joey starts to look out of the pouch, and around 6 weeks later it will emerge completely for short periods. At between 7 and 8 months the joey will leave the pouch permanently, but will continue to suckle until 12 months old.
A Female Kangaroo Can Choose When To Have A Baby
A female kangaroo has the ability to delay the development of an embryo (the very early stage of a baby’s development) in her womb, in a process known as ‘embryonic diapause’.
There are a few different reasons why a kangaroo might need to do this. Firstly, if she already has a joey in her pouch, she will want to wait until it is old enough to leave before giving birth to another baby.
Secondly, in times of drought or food shortage the female may postpone development of a baby until she can provide it with sufficient nutrition.
How Does A Kangaroo Keep Cool?
The Australian environment is hot and arid (dry). The red kangaroo must eat fresh vegetation with a high water content in order to survive. The kangaroo is very good at conserving body water, and its kidneys are highly efficient at concentrating urine.
The red kangaroo generally grazes at night, when temperatures are cooler. During the day it prefers to stay in the shade, conserving energy and avoiding the strong sun. In order to regulate its body temperature it pants, sweats and licks its forelimbs to stay cool.
Is the Red Kangaroo Endangered?
There are estimated to be over 11 million red kangaroos in Australia. The red kangaroo is not endangered and it has been rated ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN.
Red Kangaroo Facts For Kids: Questions
Q1. Where are red kangaroos found?
- a) Europe
- b) Asia
- c) Australia
Q2. What does a red kangaroo eat?
- a) Herbivore: Mainly fresh grass but also flowering plants, leaves and ferns.
- b) Carnivore: Meat, mainly rabbits and small rodents.
- c) Omnivore: A mix of meat and green vegetation
Q3. What is a group of kangaroos called?
- a) Litter
- b) Mob
- c) Herd
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Red Kangaroo Facts For Kids: Answers
Q1) c, Q2) a, Q3) b