View Full Version : Week 22 - Kangaroo

October 22nd, 2007, 11:26 PM
The kangaroo belongs to a large family with as many as 60 species!
The 6 larger species are called kangaroos and wallaroos while the smaller ones are called rat kangaroos, potoroos, tree kangaroos, pademelons and wallabies.

How do you identify the different large kangaroos? By their noses! A wallaroo's nose has a large black bare patch around it. A red kangaroo has a smaller, boomerang-shaped black bare patch on its nose. The grey kangaroo's nose is covered with hair except for narrow bare bands around the nostrils.

Kangaroos are big-footed marsupials which evolved in Australia. The males of the species are known as boomers, the females as flyers and the young as joeys. The female has a pouch in front of her body in which she carries the young after birth.

Kangaroos have powerful hind legs and short, thumbless forelimbs. Kangaroos can travel at speeds up to 30 miles per hour and can leap some 30 feet. Kangaroos use their long tails for balancing. Their bodies are covered in thick, coarse, wooly hair that can be shades of gray, brown or red. Kangaroos are marsupials, which means that females carry newborns, or "joeys," in a pouch on the front of their abdomens.

Red and gray kangaroos stand between five and six feet tall. Most weigh between 50 and 120 pounds, though some can reach 200 pounds. Female kangaroos are generally smaller than males of the same species.

On average, kangaroos live in the wild for six to eight years.

The kangaroo family is native to the Australian continent and to parts of Papua New Guinea and Tasmania. Most species are found only in Australia. These large-footed marsupials can be found in many types of habitat, from cold-climate rainforests and desert plains to tropical areas.

Most kangaroos are exclusively plant-eaters, with grasses forming the bulk of their diet. They also feed on moisture-filled succulent plants. Only the musky rat kangaroo eats insects and worms as well. Most kangaroos forage mainly at night.

Kangaroos can go without water for long periods. Some wallaroos do not drink water even when the temperature is very high. They conserve body water by hiding in hollows during the hottest part of the day.

However, droughts may affect the mating ability of kangaroos. The population of the red kangaroo can fall from a high of 12 million to 5 million in times of drought.

Kangaroos live and travel in organized groups or "mobs," dominated by the largest male.

Usually, female kangaroos give birth to one joey at a time. Newborns weigh as little as 0.03 ounces at birth. 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.

Humans hunt kangaroos for their meat and hides. Also, the introduction of domestic herbivores, such as sheep, cattle and rabbits increases competition for many plants and may cause food scarcity in times of drought.

The Tasmanian forester kangaroo is listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.