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Western Grey Kangaroo (Black-faced, Mallee, or Sooty Kangaroo)

Can be found living on golf courses


Order: Diprotodontia Prev. Marsupialia

Family: Macropodidae

Genus & Species: Macropus fuliginosus

APPEARANCE

The western grey kangaroo looks much like the eastern grey kangaroo, and for many years was even treated as a subspecies. The males grow from 6-7 ft (180-210 cm) in height, with the females being smaller. Males weigh 121.5 lbs (54 kg) and the females weigh 63 lbs (28 kg). They vary in colour, being anywhere from greyish-brown to chocolate brown to reddish-brown. The undersides are pale. The muzzle is covered in fine hair, much finer than those of the other 2 large kangaroo spp. There are two distinct groups of western grey kangaroos, one in western Australia and one in southern Australia. The western group is slender and greyish-brown in colour, and the southern group is stockier and brown in colour with bluish-grey underparts.

Western grey kangaroos have the basic kangaroo appearance: small head, large ears, a long thick tail used for balance, short forearms, strong hindlegs, and long broad back feet ideal for hopping and standing upright. The females carry a pouch that is used to carry the baby while it nurses and to keep it out of harm's way.

Western grey kangaroo females are known as does or fliers, the males as boomers or stinkers due to their strong, curry-like smell, and the young as joeys.

Western grey kangaroos are the most vocal of the 3 large kangaroo spp. The mothers communicate to the joeys with a series of clicks.

HABITAT

Western grey kangaroos are located in the western and southern 2/3 of Australia. The southern group can be found in South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. Western grey kangaroos are the species of kangaroo most adaptable to different climates, and yet are rarely found in American zoos. In Australia, they thrive in woodlands, open forests, coastal heathland, and open grassland and scrubland. They can even be found on city outskirts and golf courses.

Western grey kangaroos live in groups called mobs.

FOOD

Western grey kangaroos feed mostly on grass but will browse upon certain native shrubs. They are strictly herbivorous and use microorganisms in the cecum (a vestigial organ in humans) to break down the cellulose of these plants. They can survive on plants high in fibre but low in nitrogen, and require very little water. An interesting aspect of this kangaroo species is that they have developed a tolerance for sodium fluoroacetate, a toxin produced by many Australian plants.

ENEMIES

Western grey kangaroos have few natural enemies, being mostly hunted by the introduced dingo. They are considered pests to agricultural lands, so a quota has been placed allowing farmers to shoot a certain number each year.

BREEDING

Western grey kangaroos have no particular breeding season, although most joeys are born in the summer. Unlike most kangaroos, the embryo of the western grey kangaroo is not kept in a dormant state in the uterus. Only 1 joey (rarely 2) is born in an almost larval stage after a gestation period of only 31 days. The joey will climb from the birth canal to the pouch in 3 minutes, after which it grabs hold of a teat and nurses. They leave the pouch at 8 months and are independent of it at 10 months, although they continue to nurse from it for another 6 months. The female will mate again after the joey has left the pouch.

RELATIVES

The western grey kangaroo is related to the eastern grey and red kangaroos. There are at least 2 subspecies, one on the mainland and one on Kangaroo Island.

RESOURCES CITED

1. www.agric.wa.gov.au/agency/pubns/infonotes/A02292.html
2. www.calm.wa.gov.au/plants_animals/mammal_kangaroo.html
3. www.esl.com.au/greykan.htm
4. www.kangaroocenter.com/westerngrey.html
5. www.geocities.com/RainForest/Andes/1889/atoz/wgrey.htm
6. 203.147.226.227/3123.htm

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