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Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Can jump distances of 30 ft


Order: Diprotodontia Prev. Marsupialia

Family: Macropodidae

Genus & Species: Macropus giganteus

APPEARANCE

The eastern grey kangaroo looks much like its relative the red kangaroo, although it is slightly smaller. Eastern greys grow to a height of 5-6 ft (1.5-1.8 m), with a weight of 135 lbs (60 kg) for the males and 72 lbs (32 kg) for the females. They have a small head with large ears, and a strip of light-coloured fur runs down the muzzle, separating the nostrils. The fur is generally steely grey and is courser and curlier than that of the western grey. The colour varies from grey to brown with white underparts, legs, and underside of tail. The tail is 4 ft (1.2 m) in length and is very strong. It is used for balance while running fast and as a prop while standing upright. The hind legs are muscular and well-suited for hopping. The hind feet are 18 in (56 cm) long and are very broad. In contrast, the forelegs are short and end in small, hand-like feet with five digits that are used for grasping objects. All females have a pouch that hold the young as they begin to mature. Females and joeys communicate with a series of squeaks and clucks, and the males with a series of coughs and grunts emitted while fighting.

Eastern greys are excellent jumpers, being able to leap distances of 30 ft (9 m) in a single bound. They can obtain speeds of 30 mph and use up less energy the faster they go. When walking slowly, they crawl on all fours. Female eastern greys are called fliers, the young are called joeys, and the males are called boomers.

Eastern greys have a great sense of smell and sight, and can swivel their ears to lock onto a sound coming from a certain direction. Eastern grey kangaroos have a life span of 18 years.

HABITAT

Eastern grey kangaroos are found in the grasslands and open woodlands throughout most of the eastern provinces of Australia, including the island of Tasmania. They live in social units known as mobs; many mobs graze together. A mob consists of a mature male, which acts as the leader, as well as 2-3 younger males and 2-3 females with their joeys.

Eastern greys feed mainly at night and in the cool of the morning and evening. During the heat of the day they rest in the shade or dig holes in the earth in which they sleep.

FOOD

Eastern grey kangaroos are herbivores and browse on shrubs, spinifex, and leaves. They also graze upon grass and herbs, often alongside sheep and cattle in farmers' fields. They do not require much water or nitrogen from grass.

ENEMIES

Eastern grey kangaroos have few enemies besides dingos. Because of their habit to jump farmers' fences and feed on their grazing land, they are shot in large numbers. Fortunately, they are in no immediate danger of extinction, having a population of close to 2 million.

When an eastern grey senses danger nearby, it will thump the ground with its hind legs to warn the rest of the mob.

BREEDING

Eastern greys reach sexual maturity around 1.5-2 years of age. The breeding season is from spring to early summer. The joey is born after an extremely short gestation period of 30-38 days, and emerges from the birth canal only 1 in (2.5 cm) in length and weighing oz (1 g). It then crawls into the pouch and grabs hold of a teat, and stays in the pouch for 300 days. Even after it has left the pouch, it will continue to nurse until 18 months old.

RELATIVES

The eastern grey kangaroo is closely related to the western grey kangaroo.

RESOURCES CITED

1. Funk & Wagnall's Wildlife Encyclopedia "Kangaroo" pg 1173, vol 10, 1974, USA, BPC Pub Ltd.
2. "Grey Kangaroo" Wildlife Fact File, USA, IM Pub Inc
3. www.sfzoo.org/map/.kangaroo.html
4. www.streetnet.com.au/wires/3121.htm
5. www.panda.org/kids/wildlife/kanggrey.htm
6. www.koala.net/animals/mammals/marsupials/macropod/ easterngrey.htm
7. www.kangaroocenter.com/easterngrey.html
8. www.fortunecity.com/tinpan/kurtwood/336/aussie.html

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