Here are some of the most wonderful kangaroo facts for kids including kangaroo habitat, diet, and reproduction. Kangaroo belongs to the family of Macropodidae. Kangaroos are generally classified into three subspecies namely; red kangaroo, antilopine kangaroo, eastern grey kangaroo, and western grey kangaroo. Kangaroos are the native animals in Australia and the smaller of these species are known to reside in New Guinea.
These animals have large robust hind legs that are built for leaping and jumping. The tail functions to maintain a sheer balance. Kangaroo is the national symbol of Australia. Some of these species are considered to be endangered whereas few of them are still abundant.
They are mainly hunted to fulfill various purposes such as meat-eating, leather hides, and sports. Kangaroo is believed to be a significant element in the Australian culture. It is the only species to employ hopping as its primarily means of locomotion. Lets get down for the most interesting facts about kangaroos for kids.
Kangaroo Facts For Kids
- The hopping speed of kangaroos is 20 to 25 km/g (13 to 16 mph), with an exception of 70 km/h (44 mph) occasionally in a short burst. Generally, these animals are capable to maintain the speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) for about 2 km (1.2 miles). This hopping behavior arises out of the search-for-food rather than escape from predators.
- Kangaroos are proved to be better swimmers when required.
- Red kangaroo is the largest marsupial.
- The long tail of a kangaroo serves as a balancing tool. The kangaroo’s body is shielded with the dense wooly hair exhibiting different shades such as red, brown and grey. Kangaroos are marsupials which imply that the females carry joeys in their pouch.
- Kangaroos are highly adaptable to a dry, barren continent together with a flexible climate. Like other marsupials, the young begins to emerge at the primitive stage of development after a gestation period of 31 to 36 days. During this time, the joeys develop their forelimbs to a certain degree that helps them to jump out of the pouch.
- The height of the red and gray kangaroos measures around 5 – 6 feet. The mean weight of these marsupials is 50 – 120 pounds, with some species can weigh up to 200 pounds.
- The females are usually smaller than males.
- The average lifespan of kangaroos is 6 to 8 years.
- Kangaroos are primarily found in the large groups called ‘mobs’. These mobs are normally driven by the dominated male. A mob, on the whole, comprises of ten males and females or sometimes the numbers reach fifty. The dominant male, which is also the largest male, is known as boomer. A boomer is the only individual in the mob that can access any female for mating anytime. The females often reject the males for their smaller size.
- Kangaroos are typically timid animals and they don’t often present threats to humans.
- Kangaroos are often known to kick out their opponents and sometimes predators. When there is a threat nearby, kangaroo pounds the ground with its powerful feet in forewarning.
Read More: Red Kangaroo Facts
Feeding Ecology and Diet
- Like cattle and sheep, kangaroos tend to chew the food before actually swallowing it completely. The diet of these animals varies significantly from specie to specie.
- Kangaroos are herbivorous so most of their diet composes of shrubs, leaves, grazing several grasses. The smaller species are known to consume hypogeal fungi. The kangaroo’s incisors allow it to cut shrubs and grasses really close to the ground and its molars are designed to grind down the vegetation.
- Like domestic cows, kangaroos also regurgitate grass and shrubs which is already eaten before finally swallowing it. They can survive for longer periods without drinking water – hydrated by the moisture included in the vegetation it consumes.
- They spend their time while roosting under shadows and feeding there under. They have specialized teeth that are completely adaptable to chew crops and grass.
Kangaroos have not many predators. Some of these are marsupial lion and Wonambi that have gone extinct. Other predators include wedge-tailed eagles, goannas, carrion, and other reptiles. Feral cats, foxes, and canids also prey on kangaroos.
Distribution and Habitat
Kangaroos are found in Australia and Tasmania. Some of these species are also commonly found in the surrounding islands. They make their habitats in forests as well as from woodland areas to the grassy plains and savannas. These species are also found in the Eastern Australia.
The total population of eastern gray kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) is estimated at 8,978,000; while the western gray kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus) are 1,774,000, and around 8,351,000 red kangaroo species currently exist.
Kangaroos in Captivity
It goes without saying that the zoos and aquariums seem to be an educational and conservation-oriented hub, but they are basically designed to attract visitors in mind, rather than considering the needs of animals.
There are certain animals that seldom survive when they’re left out of their natural habitats even when the artificial habitats meet all the requirements. Apart from endangered species, animals should not be bred in captivity and this is specifically true in case of those species that demand rather more space. Kangaroo is one of them that require slightly more space in comparison to other animals.
Kangaroos and the Environment
Are Kangaroos in Plague Populations?
According to the government estimates of 2001 and 2006, the kangaroo’s population crashed all throughout the country by 50 to 70 percent. Referring to the Murray Darling Report, the kangaroo’s density faced drastic decline where no more than two kangaroos per square kilometers are quasi-extinct.
However, the worst figures revealed in the South Australia and New South Wales where most of the commercial industries exist and for the same reason kangaroos are hunted thus making it at the verge of extinction in these regions.
Kangaroos are practically extinct in some areas of NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia. Conservationists hold that an average age of red kangaroos in NSW is only 2 years as against the typical age of 25 years.
There were more than two hundred million species during the time of first settlers. The official figures of 2007 show that there are only twenty four million species remaining, 3.8 million were killed or subject to illegal hunting for commercial purposes.
IS THE KANGAROO INDUSTRY SUSTAINABLE? | Kangaroo Facts For Kids
A two hundred million dollar kangaroo killing industry is rapidly growing at a pace of 7 percent per year.
More than 80% of kangaroos that are killed in New South Wales are females. Certainly, it could leave adverse effects on the future breed of kangaroos as the female kangaroos are declining at a faster rate. Besides, the industry is targeting largest kangaroos that used to look after whole herds of kangaroos.
Red kangaroos are the top-most sufferers. It’d be rather more profitable to let kangaroos flourish and encourage eco-tourism for the $85 billion tourism industry.
The female normally litters one joey at a time. The weight of the newborn young measures around 0.03 ounces at birth. These joeys crawl straight into the mother’s pouch where she will nurse and breed him.
The gray kangaroo young usually waits for one year before it actually leaves the pouch. The female is capable to adjust the composition of the milk according to the requirements of the joeys. The mother can offer two different kinds of milk to an infant and the older joey.
The joey can grow to a size of 1 inch (2.5 cm) at birth, or almost the size of a grape. These infants cannot swallow or suckle the milk so their mother needs to employ her muscles to pump milk down the throat.
- The gestation period lasts for about 31 – 36 days.
- The joey stays in the pouch for about 180 – 320 days.
- Mothers will continue to feed these babies for about 18 months.
- The joey will begin to enjoy the external world after a period of 235 days.
- The lifespan of kangaroos is 6 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity.
- As far as maturity is concerned, most kangaroos living in the wild are not lucky enough to reach the maturity age.
The kangaroos are classified as vulnerable species except for the Tasmanian forester kangaroo which is termed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
- Red Kangaroo
- Eastern Grey Kangaroo
- Western Grey Kangaroo
- Antilopine Kangaroo