Kangaroos

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

It is an unusual thing to see a large mammal effortlessly hopping across the countryside.

 

Eastern Grey Kangaroo pair

 

Endemic to Australia, kangaroos live on most of the continent and some surrounding islands, see map below. Called macropods for their family name Macropodidae, there are about 55 species of kangaroos.

 

There are several species of large kangaroos, and they are roughly the size of an adult human, or a little bigger.Β In addition there are about 50 smaller macropods including wallabies, wallaroos, and tree kangaroos. Wallabies are generally knee-high.

 

Mareeba Rock Wallaby with joey

 

Ancient Kangaroo Rock Art, Kakadu NP

 

Wikipedia overview.

 

While diets vary for each species, all kangaroos are herbivores. They have specialized teeth and chambered stomachs for eating and digesting grass and plants; can endure long periods without drinking, by getting water from their diet.

 

Red-legged Pademelon with joey

 

Like most marsupials, kangaroos are born after a short gestation. The word “marsupial” derives from Latin and Greek for pouch.

 

The size of a lima bean, a newborn kangaroo begins life by crawling from the uterus to the pouch. The hind legs are still stumps, but forelegs are just big enough for the joey (baby) to crawl into the pouch. They live in the pouch, nourishing on the mother’s teats, for months.

 

Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo (rare)

Australia is a large continent, about the same size as the contiguous United States. It is also a land of extreme temperatures, and animal life can be tenuous. When conditions are favorable, kangaroos reproduce rapidly; during droughts they do not give birth, and the population drops.

Agile Wallaby

 

Another kangaroo challenge on this expansive and weather-extreme continent is finding food and water. For this they have evolved with special elastic tendons in their legs, allowing them to travel far distances without expending much energy. They are the only large mammal on earth to hop.

 

The red kangaroo, the largest species, comfortably hops at about 12-16 miles per hour (20-25 km/h). For short distances they can speed up to 43 mph (70 km/h).

Wallaby

 

Mareeba Rock Wallaby at Granite Gorge

 

Eastern Grey Kangaroo mob

 

I witnessed a comical scene with kangaroos once, while birding. There were three of us in a jeep, out in the middle of nowhere, half-hidden behind some brush. A mob (group) of large, grey kangaroos came hopping by and they didn’t know we were there. They were clipping along at a good speed. When they saw us, they stopped immediately, trying to redirect, but they were moving so fast that their momentum had them slipping and sliding in all directions.

 

They hop like a bunny, digest like a cow, and occupy only one continent. Hip hip for the hopper.

 

Photo credit: Athena Alexander

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Image by SnakeByte Studios

 

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61 thoughts on “Kangaroos

    • We love the roos, Teagan, what a joy they are. Glad you enjoyed the post, and my thanks for your visit. I enjoyed your post and link to Donna Parker’s hilarious space today, thank you, and have a delightful weekend.

  1. Great post – I jumped for joy when I saw the kangaroos! The ancient rock art depicting a kangaroo is beautiful. I know some see these creatures as a pest, but hopfully they’ll always be a part of what makes Australia so unique and wonderful. Loved your encounter with the grey mob – as I get older, the notion of belonging to the grey mob is rather appealing. Now if only I had the energy of a grey ‘roo…
    Enjoy your weekend!

    • Glad you enjoyed the kangaroos today, I enjoyed your jump for joy, and also the grey mob connection. We found the art drawing on the side of rocks in Kakadu park where the drawings have managed to survive thousands of years. I love knowing that kangaroos graced their world so very long ago. My best to you and Mrs. PC for a lovely weekend ahead, I know you two will find something interesting and beautiful.

  2. Love the picture of the baby Pademelon. I had to find out the origin of that strange name. “The name is a corruption of badimaliyan, from the Dharuk Aboriginal language of Port Jackson (Sydney region)” (according to Wikipedia). I love your book too Jet.

    • It’s a curious name for a kangaroo, right Sherry? Thanks for the kudos on Wicked Walkabout, too, you are a valued reader in this author’s world. FYI, I am working away on “Sinister Safari,” it will be at least another year or so before it’s ready for publishing…and it’s a good one too.

    • And you have lots of Australian knowledge and visiting, as I recall, but you’re right, Joanne, tree kangaroos are not well known. We were really really lucky to have seen this one, and it was only through a tenacious guide who had seen them in this one tree other times. We climbed fences, circled the forest, and clambered through tall weeds and got to see him, what a thrill! Many thanks–

  3. I’ve never heard of a tree kangaroo and I love the photos with the joeys. Your story gave me a good laugh as I imagined it. Maybe it was a place to say, “Cool your jets.” πŸ™‚ Had to work that one in somewhere. Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for taking me away once again.

    janet

    • I’m glad to have shared the story of the still-moving kangaroos with you, Janet, and I love how you worked in “Cool your jets.” Gave me a warm smile. And the tree kangaroos are indeed unusual. They are on the conservation status as “near threatened.” We were lucky to have a guide who was determined to show us this beautiful kangaroo, hiding effectively in a bushy tree in a suburban creek-side area. Thanks for stopping by and for joining me Down Under. πŸ™‚

  4. Lovely post. The “vision” of the mob in disarray is hilarious. I wonder what they thought of 3 humans with cameras and binoculars, out in the middle of nowhere, in a jeep, hiding in the bushes. Perhaps they’re telling that story now, too!

    • And we three were all over the place, finding big pythons, fields of macaws, unusual forest birds…so the kangaroos, if they were sharing stories, probably had a lot to talk about. But still, not as much as we had to talk about them, such unique creatures. A great joy to have you come by, dear Nan, thank you.

    • You’re right, Jan, there are other animals who delay birth too. They call it diapause or seasonal delayed implantation. I looked it up and there are about 100 mammals that can do this including rodents and bears. And yes, a pouch is also a clever design of Mother Nature’s, too. Thank you, always a pleasure to have you stop by.

  5. Oooh! Can’t wait for Sinister Safari to come out. I never cease to be amazed at the adventures you have. My godmother emigrated to Australia (Brisbane) after living in a Displaced Persons camp in the aftermath of WW II. My family and I ended up here in the states. I had always hoped to visit that amazing unique land. If for no other reason than to see the kangaroos! πŸ˜€ Alas, somehow that never happened. Perhaps I could have used a touch of your adventure juice in my genes.
    Thanks so much for this lovely (as usual) post and a big thanks to Athena for the visuals which mean so much to me!

    • Such a delight to receive this warm message, Gunta. I am so happy to have brought the kangaroos to you, and what a joy to share Athena’s fine photographs too. Until I wrote this post with a focus strictly on kangaroos, I had no idea how many different species I have seen. I couldn’t even fit them all in. Once we were hiking way out, on a previous visit to Australia way back in 1999, and we found a park shelter and sat down at a picnic bench in the shade because it was so very hot. We had set our map on the table and took off our gear for a respite. A cheeky kangaroo came along and ate our map! We were glad he wasn’t interested in our gear. ha. Cheers to you, my friend–

  6. Interesting Post about the Kangaroos. Never did get to see them when I was in Sydney years ago. Wish that I could have, but never had the time. I think the little Wallabyees(?) are cute to see.

    • I only saw kangaroos in Sydney when I went to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, so I think you probably fared better here, Les. Those wallabies were really cute. We went to a wallaby sanctuary and saw hundreds of them. Many thanks, Les.

    • I found this amazing, too, Val. When we think of a kangaroo, we often just have the big ones in mind, and yet there are over 50 species. Fun to share them with you, thanks so much for stopping by.

    • I’ve seen videos and photos of the fighting males, but this is something we never saw in person, with no complaints from me. The male red kangaroos get pretty big, too. Glad to have brought the kangaroos to you today, Eliza, thank you.

  7. I’ve seen kangaroos but was never so interested on them. However I was always curious to know why they do not complete gestation in the womb. I’m still stump about that. Interesting post my friend. πŸ™‚

    • Kangaroos are always ready to reproduce, so the reason gestation does not get completed in the womb is because the uterus has to be ready for the next joey. They call it “pregnant in permanence.” She has the ability to start developing a new joey the day after she has given birth. The mother also has the ability to produce two different kinds of milk, one for the very newly born, and one for the older joey still in the pouch. The mother can, if necessary, freeze the embryo’s development until the joey in her pouch has left. This is how the species has evolutionarily adapted to extreme conditions, quite fascinating and somewhat puzzling for us nine-month gestators to believe. As always, my friend, a pleasure; thanks so much, HJ.

  8. I hadn’t imagined there to be so many species, Jet, but they are remarkably well adjusted to their habitat. The smaller ones are adorable. I would love to have one skipping along beside me. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  9. How wonderful that you were able to see so many different kangaroos and I had no idea there were 55 species. The photos are fabulous and I especially enjoyed the shot of the tree kangaroo that appears to look so different from the others and the photos with a joey. The Detroit Zoo has a little outback adventure area you can walk through that has a mob of red kangaroos and while it would have been fun to see a little tussle between two or one hop by, they were all sleeping. I loved learning about the kangaroos and laughed imagining the surprise by all when they slid by your jeep and to go with your closing words the song Rapper’s Delight immediately popped into my head “hip a hop, and you don’t stop, rock it out.” Some days I really wish my brain was programmed to recite poetry or Shakespeare instead of songs. Wonderful post and I’m so glad you share your amazing adventures!

    • Your comments are always a much-enjoyed feast for me, ACI, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments and attentive reading. I, too, had no idea there were 55 species until I did the research here. Your observant eyes are right in that the tree kangaroo is quite different than the other kangaroos. They are the only arboreal macropods, and have many adaptive features for tree-living. We never would’ve found this one if our guide hadn’t known the trees the roo regularly inhabits, and if we hadn’t climbed around for an hour to find it. I am glad to have given you some wild kangaroo experiences, what a pleasure this is for me. As for the closing words, I am thrilled that you commented on them. I typically rewrite the closing paragraph an average of 3-5 times for every post, before I am satisfied. I did for this one too, and I really liked it in its simplicity. So the Rapper’s Delight song that you quoted gave me the biggest smile and was spot-on appropriate, and very much poetry. Cheers for a happy rest of the weekend and some good FB too. Thanks so much, ACI.

    • Thanks very much, Belinda. Joeys never fail to make me smile. And I really like the rock art too, glad you did. It’s really remarkable how the rock cliffs are still adorned, out in the harsh Australian sun, after thousands and thousands of years. Many thanks for your visit–

    • It’s a curious thing to see a kangaroo in a tree. They have very long tails, like a monkey, to help them stay on the limbs. Glad you enjoyed the kangaroos, Hien, thank you for your visits today.

    • When I was crafting this post, all the kangaroo images and songs came into my mind, so I thought this rock art would be a nice addition. I’m glad you liked it RH. I decided against Captain Kangaroo…lol. Many thanks for your visit and comment.

  10. Without a doubt one of the things I loved most about our time in Australia were these incredible jumping beans. So fabulous to see these gorgeous photos. When we were in Tasmania we had the pleasure of staying on a farm with friends. At night there were so many wallabies it seemed as though it must be impossible. Thanks for bringing back such wonderful memories Jet.

    • I loved hearing about your farm stay, Sue, and the nighttime wallabies. I had a similar experience once on a night walk, with wallabies grazing all over the hillsides. Thanks so much for taking the time to share this incredible kangaroo adventure. My best wishes to you as you and Dave adventure the landscapes of Ireland.

  11. I learned so much from this ‘roo’ post. What an amazing animal, from the pouch to the delayed birthing to the speedy hopping. I’ve never heard of aggressive kangaroos, so assume they are peaceful.

    • I am delighted to have brought you kangaroo info, Pam. Kangaroos are peaceful as well as aggressive. Males can be aggressive, especially over females, and can wallop some powerful kicks in their fighting. I didn’t see any fighting, but have seen plenty of videos and photos of this. Thanks so much for stopping by.

      • Oh. Okay. Next time I come close to a kangaroo, I’ll not get TOO close. πŸ™‚ Actually, sounds a lot like deer. They are not aggressive to humans at all. UNLESS we are near a fawn, or they’re in the middle of finding a mate. I know this from experience. :-0

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