Scientific Classification: kangaroos comes from the Macropodidae family, meaning ‘large foot’, and the largest species are from the Macropus genus.
Alternative Names: the word kangaroo comes from the Aboriginal Guugu Yimithirr word gangurru, but was recorded as ‘kangooroo’ by Captain James Cook in 1770 while his ship was breached on the banks of the Endeavour River. The urban myth is that they originally thought that ‘kangooroo’ meant ‘I don’t understand you’, because that’s what the locals said when Cook asked what a kangaroo was.
Location: they are found all over the country.
- Male kangaroos are called bucks, boomers or old men while females are called does, flyers or jills. Groups of kangaroos are called mobs or troops.
- There are four speices of kangaroo – the red kangaroo is the largest and cover the open plains, the eastern and western greys prefer forests and scrub around the southern side of Australia, and the antilopine kangaroo lives in the far northern regions of queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. There are also about 50 subspecies of closely-related macropods.
- Kangaroos feature on the Australian coat of arms and on the 50c and $1 coins.
- They are marsupials, which means their babies are reared in a pouch.
- Kangaroo meat is low in fat, high in protein and is an excellent source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). You can purchase kangaroo meat from the shops in steak, sausage and ground meat form, and it makes a great alternative to beef.
- Kangaroos are the only large animals that use hopping to get around and they can reach speeds of up to 70km per hour.
- Kangaroos are good swimmers and will ofen use waterways to escape predators. If the predator follows them into the water, the kangaroo may use its forepaws to hold the predator’s head underwater until it drowns. Swimming is the only time that they can move their legs independantly.
- They are strict herbivores, grazing on grasses and shrubs, and have similar stomachs to cows and sheep.
- Kangaroos mate every year, gestation lasts for 33 days and at birth, the little joey is hairless, blind and only a few centimeters long. It climbs through it’s mum’s thick fur to find the pouch, where it stays to drink milk and grow for about six months before it starts to feel safe to poke it’s head out of the pouch. When it can’t fit in the pouch anymore – after about 235 days – it departs the pouch for life in the grass.
- Female kangaroos are ready for reproduction a few days after giving birth, but if they mate and concieve, the fertilised egg is put into a dormant state until the previous joey leaves the pouch. That means they can have three babies at the same time – one out of the pouch, one in the pouch and one on standby.
Cuteness Rating: They have pretty eyes and the joeys are freakin’ cute!
Danger Rating: have you heard about boxing kangaroos? These guys have a catty right jab and can balance on their tail to kick you with both of their muscly legs at the same time. Warning – their feet have been known to disembowel.
Our Encounter: Where do we start?! We’ve seen so many in the last two months!
The tame kangaroos at Urimbirra Wildlife were very friendly and gave Juz hugs from all sides, but don’t expect this when you see roos in the wild. More often then not, they’ll just look up and stare at you before hopping away.