Red Kangaroo
Macropus rufus

CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Diprotodontia
SUBORDER: Marsupialia
FAMILY: Macropodidae

SIZE:
Length 8 - 8.5 feet (3 - 3.5 ft tail); weight 50 to 150 lbs.

RANGE:
Inland plains of Australia

HABITAT:
Grassland, open shrub and lightly wooded plains (open country)

DIET:
Wild - Herbivores; grass, herbs, leaves and bark of low shrubs
Zoo - Herbivore diet

ADAPTATIONS:

  • Tail -- Tapered, strong and heavy, acting as a balance and rudder when leaping. The front legs supports the animal's body as the rear legs move forward when grazing. Also acts as a third leg while sitting and can support the entire body weight.
  • Legs -- Hind legs are powerful muscles and provide the spring for the animal's leaping. The kangaroo can jump 20 feet and travel at speeds of 25 to 30 mph. As means of protection, the legs provide a powerful kick. Front feet are small and used mainly for feeding.
  • Senses -- Ears are rather large, flexible and are able to be moved in various directions. Hearing and sense of smell are keen.
  • Adaptability -- Adults have various ways to cope with extreme heat. Dense fur acts as insulation from heat. The animals can pant and sweat for cooling, and can survive with limited water supplies for rather extened periods.
  • Marsupial -- As marsupials, kangaroos have a pouch where the young that are born in a premature embryonic state complete development. The tiny young must crawl from the uterus over the mother kangaroo's belly to the pouch and then attaches itself to one of four nipples where it will nurse and continue developing.
  • Reproduction -- The reproduction cycle allows for an unborn young, in an arrested state, to remain inside the mother even while a developing young is nursing in the pouch. In this way, reproduction is rapid during favorable times making up for period of drought when young do not survive.

STATUS:
Protected by Australian government, although populations must be reduced from time to time.

REFERENCES:
"Mammals of the World", Walker
"Biology of Marsupials", Stonehouse
"Kangaroos", H. J. Frith
"Strange Animals of Australia", Milton Lesser