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Red Kangaroo

The baby is only the size of a lima bean

Order: Diprotodontia Prev. Marsupialia

Family: Macropodidae

Genus & Species: Macropus rufus


Red kangaroos are one of the more familiar species of broad-footed marsupials found in Australia. They are 6 ft (180 cm) tall with an average head/body length of 5.4 ft (162.5 cm). The tail is very strong and heavy and is 4 ft (120 cm) in length. It is used for balance. The red kangaroo males are larger than the females, the males weighing 100-150 lbs (45-68 kg) and the females weighing 40-80 lbs (18-36 kg). The back legs are very strong and are ideal for hopping. The feet are broad and generally 18 in (45 cm) long. The forelegs are much smaller than the back legs and also help to keep balance while the ‘roo is moving slowly. The head is small and the ears are large. The muzzle is less hairy than that of the grey kangaroo spp. Red kangaroos very greatly in colour, the males generally red and the females generally bluish-grey. However, any shade between red and grey can be found on either gender.

Red kangaroos are powerful jumpers, being able to jump heights of 6 ft (180 cm) and lengths of 29 ft (870 cm). They can run up to speeds of 35 mph in short burst, but will generally run only 12 mph. They have a life span of 9-13 years in the wild, and up to 20 in captivity.

Males are known as boomers, females as does or blue fliers, and the young as joeys.


Red kangaroos are found only on the continent of Australia, and are distributed throughout all of its provinces. They are mostly absent from the wetter areas of southwestern, eastern, and northern Australia. They are found in open plains and dry grasslands that have neither bushes nor trees. Red kangaroos live in groups called mobs that are centered around an older dominant male. At night they graze and during the day they rest.


Red kangaroos are grazers, unlike the browsing grey kangaroos. They are strictly herbivores, feeding on grasses and other vegetation. They can go for long periods of time without water. In the zoo they are fed beet pulp, hay, kale, and grains.


Red kangaroos have few natural enemies. The dog-like marsupial known as the Tasmanian wolf at one time preyed upon them, but today they are thought to be extinct. The introduced dingo is now one of their only enemies. Man poses as their greatest threat as sheep farmers will shoot them on sight due to the fact that they graze upon much of their land. Red kangaroos will not jump over fences 5 ft (150 cm) high, but these are just too costly to put up, and kangaroos can crawl underneath weak sections anyway. Red kangaroos are one of the more common of the marsupial species in Australia.


Red kangaroos reach sexual maturity at 2-3 years for both sexes. They will breed at any time of the year, but rarely during drought or dry weather. There is a gestation period of 30-42 days, after which the mother will clean her pouch before giving birth. She then will take up the birth position, sitting on her tail base with her legs extended forward and her tail between them. She then licks her birth canal, and the small, lima bean-sized joey, weighing only 1/35 oz, emerges, still in its amnion (protective sac). It frees itself of this sac and begins the arduous, 3 minute climb to the mother's pouch, with the umbilical cord still attached. Once it reaches the pouch, it grabs a hold of one of the four teats and begins to nurse. It will leave the pouch after 8 months but will continue to return to nurse for months afterward.

Like most macropods, the embryo is kept in a dormant state while in the uterus.


There are approximately 55 members in the family Macropodidae, which means "big foot". These include kangaroos, wallabies, tree kangaroos, and wallaroos. The red kangaroo is closely related to the eastern and western grey kangaroos.


1. Funk & Wagnall's Wildlife Encyclopedia, "Kangaroo", vol 10, pg 1171-1173, 1974, USA, BPC Pub Ltd.
7. redkangaroo.htm