( Macropus rufus )
A member of the macropod family, the Red Kangaroo is the largest living marsupial. Males can be as tall as two metres and weigh up to 198 pounds (90kg). The female is smaller and a blue-grey colour. She is usually called the 'blue flier'.
The Red Kangaroo has long distinctive ears, powerful back legs with long feet and a long thick muscular tail. Its front legs are smaller. The female has a pocket of skin called a pouch on the lower part of her stomach to carry her young.
Kangaroos hop instead of walking or running, and except when swimming, can only move both their hind feet together.
Their long heavy tail is used to counterbalance the top part of their body when moving and as a prop when sitting or fighting. Their smaller front legs give them slight support when they bend down to graze or move slowly along the ground.
When moving quickly they tuck their front legs under their chest. The Red Kangaroo hops on its powerful back legs at speeds up to 37 miles per hour (60km).
Kangaroos are found only in Australia. The Red Kangaroo can go without water for a long time, so it can live in the inland desert, grassland, mallee and mulga areas Kangaroos usually stay in one location, but when there's a drought they can travel up to 112 miles (180km) looking for food.
Living in the drier areas, Red Kangaroos eat grass, leaves and tree bark. If they can find enough green grass they can go without drinking water for a long time.
Habits & Biology
Kangaroos are sociable and move in groups of 10-12 up to 100. There is usually one dominant male in the group. He will fight outsiders and younger males trying to take over the group.
Kangaroos fight by standing on their rear legs and attacking with their front legs. They can also balance their whole body on their strong tail, lift their back legs off the ground and hit out with the sharp claws of their rear feet.
When grazing together they are always on the lookout for danger and will warn others in the group by stamping their feet. This is a sign for young joeys to hop back into the pouch.
When a kangaroo is born it is blind and has no fur. The 3/4 of an inch long (2cm) Joey takes three minute to climb, without help, through the fur on its mother's belly into the her pouch. Once inside, the Joey clamps onto one of her four teats and sucks her milk. For the first four months it doesn't let go of the teat. Once it has a covering of fur the young Joey leaves the pouch for short exploring trips. The Joey stays out for longer periods returning only for milk, until it becomes independent.