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Kangaroo

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Kangaroo
Kangaroo.jpg
Scientific Classification
Species

Kangaroos are the largest Marsupials in the world and they live in Austrailia. There are three different kinds of kangaroos; the Western grey kangaroo, the Red kangaroo, and the Eastern grey kangaroo. Kangaroos are herbivores, and the females carry their young (joeys) in pouches on their stomachs.

Contents

Anatomy

Hindleg of Kangaroo

Kangaroos have large ears on top of their small heads, a long snout, and short arms with clawed fingers. The legs of kangaroos are strong and powerful and their feet are 1.5 ft long with four toes. The kangaroo also has a powerful, long, and thick tail. Females have a pouch on their stomachs for their joey to be in.[1]

Kangaroos also have a stomach really similar to sheep and cattle. Its a chambered stomach and they are able to regurgitate the food they have eaten, chew it again as cud, and then swallow it for its digestion.[2]

Courtship and Reproduction

new born joey in pouch

Kangaroos travel in mobs of about ten or more females and male kangaroos. The leader of the mob is the determined by his age and size and is called a boomer. He also has access to females in his mob for mating. The boomer will wander around the mob and check out the females and also intimidate all the other male kangaroos who try to mate with any of the females in the mob.

For courtship, the male kangaroos will go around the mob and start checking the females’ cloaca. Many times, males are rejected by the females because of their size if they are small. In other cases, if a larger male is checking a female out, she may just move away. Sometimes, when a male is checking out a female, the female will urinate for the male will sniff the urine a couple times. Some studies show that this ritual is for the male to see if the female kangaroo is receptive to him or not.

If the female is responsive to the male, she raises her tail and the male will follow her. Sometimes the kangaroos will scratch each other’s tails or the male will give the female a back rub before mating. When the female is ready to mate she will arch her tail.[3]

Female kangaroos usually only have one baby kangaroo (a joey) at a time. The newborn joey weigh as little as .03 ounces when first born and it crawls into its mothers pouch where it will nurse, grow, and develop. They spend a lot of time in their mothers pouch developing. The Red Kangaroo joey will stay in their mothers pouch for about eight months and Gray Kangaroo joeys stay in there for about a year.[4]

Ecology

Kangaroos are herbivores and they eat grass, roots, and shrubs.[5]They spend their time during the day in the shade of trees and shrubs, and then during the evening and night they eat.

Kangaroos have some predators that they have had to learn to adapt to. One of their predators, the Thylacine, is now extinct, but humans have also been a threat to the kangaroos by bringing dingos to Australia 5,000 years ago. Kangaroos can be scared away by just a dog barking. Goannas and some other reptiles will also eat smaller kangaroos if there isn’t enough food. Since kangaroos can swim, they will sometimes flee into the water. If the kangaroo’s attacker follows the kangaroo into the water, the kangaroo will sometimes hold the predator underwater with its forepaws so that it will drown. Another way that the kangaroo has learned to defend itself is by catching an attacking dog with its forepaws and then using its hind legs to kick it.[6]

Species

Western Grey Kangaroo

Western grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus)

The Western grey kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus) can weigh anything between 63lbs. to 120 lbs. and their height varies from 3 ft. to 7 ft. This kangaroo looks a lot like the Eastern grey. Western grey kangaroos color varies from a grayish-brown to a chocolate brown. The male kangaroos are known as “stinkers” since they have a really strong smell, similar to curry. These kangaroos are also very loud and vocal and the mothers often communicate with the joeys using clicking noises. They feed on grass and native shrubs and require only small amounts of water to survive.

The population of the Western grey kangaroo in 1996 was about 3,000,000 and they inhabit 60% of western and southern Australia. You can find these kangaroos in open grassland, scrubland, woodlands, open forests, some golf courses, and on the outskirts of some cities in Australia.[7]

Red Kangaroo

Red kangaroo (Macropus rufus)

The Red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) is the largest marsupial in the world and they weigh from 40 lbs. to 150 lbs. and measure from 3 ft. to 9 ft. in length. The female’s fur color is a blue-gray color and she is often called “blue flyer” because of it. The male’s fur color is usually red. The Red kangaroos move around in mobs ranging in size from a dozen to several hundred kangaroos. In the mob there is a dominant male, some adult female kangaroos, and a bunch of younger kangaroos from both sexes.

The female Red kangaroos are sexually mature at eighteen months, while the males mature sexually after two years. The joeys stay in their mothers pouch for five to six months and then for two to three months after that, they gradually spend more and more time away from their mothers pouch. The joeys are weaned after they are one year old but they still remain close to their mothers for another six months after being weaned.

The population of the Red kangaroos in 1996 was about 10,000,000 and they live throughout Australia in open areas like shrub lands, grasslands, eastern Australia, northern, and south-western Australia.[8]

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus)

The Eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) are sometimes nicknamed the “Foresters” and they are the heaviest marsupials in the world. The male kangaroo is bigger than the female and the Eastern grey kangaroos weigh from 40 lbs. to 200 lbs. and they are anywhere from 3 ft. to 8 ft. in length. These kangaroos live in small mobs but when they are feeding, they will eat together with a lot of other mobs. During the day, these kangaroos will rest in trees and shrubs’ shade and then they are active around late afternoon, through the night, and until the early morning.

The population of the Eastern grey kangaroo in 1996 was about 10,000,000 and they live in the eastern portion of Australia.[9]

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