Basic Facts About Kangaroos

Kangaroos are the largest living marsupials from the family Macropodidae. There are four species commonly referred to as the kangaroo: the red kangaroo, the eastern grey kangaroo, the western grey kangaroo, and the antilopine kangaroo.
Kangaroo, © Matt Walker
© Matt Walker

Diet

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

Population

Did You Know?

The kangaroo is the national symbol of Australia.

Eastern gray kangaroo (Macropus giganteus): 8,978,000.
Western gray kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus): 1,774,000.
Red kangaroo (Macropus rufus): 8,351,000.

Range

Kangaroos are found in Australia and Tasmania, as well as on surrounding islands. Kangaroos live in varied habitats, from forests and woodland areas to grassy plains and savannas.

Behavior

Kangaroos live and travel in organized groups or "mobs," dominated by the largest male. Male kangaroos are called boomers, bucks or jacks; females are does, flyers, or jills, and the young ones are joeys. The collective noun for kangaroos is a mob, troop or court.

Did You Know?

Kangaroos are the only large animals to use hopping as a means of locomotion.

Because of its long feet, a kangaroo cannot walk normally.

To move at slow speeds, a kangaroo will use its tail to form a tripod with its two forelimbs. It then raises its hind feet forward, in a form of locomotion called "crawl-walking."

Reproduction

Usually, female kangaroos give birth to one joey at a time. Newborns weigh as little as 0.03 ounces at birth - as small as a lima bean! After birth, the joey crawls into its mother's 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.

More on Kangaroo: Threats to Kangaroos »