Genus and Species: Macropus Giganteus
HOW THE KANGAROO GOT ITS NAME
When European explorers first saw these strange hopping animals they asked a native Australian (aborigine) what they were called.
He replied “kangaroo” meaning “I don’t understand” your question.
The explorers thought this was the animal’s name. And that’s how the kangaroo got its name.
Kangaroos are marsupial mammals and comprise 47 species within the family Macropodidae.
The three largest species of kangaroos belong to the genus Macropus; they are the gray kangaroo, or forester, Macropus canguru (sometimes called M. giganteus or M. major); the wallaroo, M. robustus; and the red kangaroo, or red flyer, M. rufus. The best-known species, the gray kangaroo, is found mostly in open forests of eastern and southwestern Australia and Tasmania. It is long-haired and silvery gray in eastern coastal regions but short-haired and dark gray inland. The red kangaroo, which is found throughout Australia’s interior grasslands, is the largest and most powerful species. A male may attain a head-body length of 1.5 m; have a tail 1 m long; stand 2 m tall; and weigh 90 kg. A gray kangaroo can clear more than 9 m (30 feet) at a bound and attain a speed of 48 kilometres per hour. The wallaroo, a smaller and stockier animal, may be dark gray to pinkish brown; it lives in rocky country throughout Australia except Victoria. These large kangaroos travel in groups (mobs) under the leadership of the largest male (“old man,” or “boomer”), which dominates younger rivals by biting, kicking, and boxing.
Each long, narrow hind foot has four toes. The short forelimbs are used almost like human arms, but the thumb is not opposable. Kangaroos possess soft, wooly fur, and some have stripes on the head, back, or upper limbs. All kangaroos have a chambered stomach that is functionally similar to those of such ruminants as cattle and sheep. They regurgitate the vegetation they have eaten, chew it as cud, and then swallow it again for final digestion.
Kangaroos need very little water to survive and are capable of going for months without drinking at all. When they do need water, they dig “wells” for themselves, frequently going as deep as three or four feet. These “kangaroo pits” are a common source of water for other animals living in the kangaroo’s environment.
Kangaroos usually have one young annually. The young kangaroo, or joey, is born alive at a very immature stage, when it is only about 2 cm long and weighs less than a gram. Immediately after birth it crawls up the mother’s body and enters the pouch. The baby attaches its mouth to one of four teats, which then enlarges to hold the young animal in place. After several weeks, the joey becomes more active and gradually spends more and more time outside the pouch, which it leaves completely between 7 and 10 months of age. Female kangaroos enter into heat within a few days after giving birth; they mate and conceive, but after only one week’s development the microscopic embryo enters a dormant state that lasts until the previous young leaves the pouch. The development of the second embryo then resumes and proceeds to birth after a gestation period of about 30 days.
Male red kangaroos are of a reddish brown colour on their fur where as the female red kangaroo is a greyish – blue colour. The largest is the Red Kangaroo. It stands taller than a man and can weigh 85 kgs. It is the largest marsupial in the world.Both of the grey kangaroo sexes have grey fur. A Kangaroo is a marsupial mammal. It is a macropod which means “big foot”.
The Kangaroo moves by hopping on its powerful hind legs. It uses its thick long tail to balance its body while hopping. A kangaroo can hop at up to 60kmh (40mph).
It can also leap over obstacles up to 3m (10ft) high.
Because of the unusual shape of its legs and its bulky tail a kangaroo can’t walk or move backwards very easily.
The life of a kangaroo:
In general kangaroos rest in the shade during the day and search for