Colloquially referred to as “roos”, the kangaroo often called, “wallaroo” and “wallaby” is the largest extant marsupial of the family Macropodidae. Although kangaroos are native to Australia, one species, the tree-kangaroo also considered the only true arboreal members of the kangaroo family can be found in Papua New Guinea.
Kangaroos and wallabies are members of the same taxonomic family of Macropodidae with kangaroos classified as the six largest species of the family. The Australian term wallaby is typically used to describe any macropod smaller than a kangaroo yet having similar characteristics and not named otherwise.
Kangaroos are known for their, large and powerful hind legs, muscular tail used for balance, small head and big feet adapted for leaping. Kangaroos because of their long feet are the only large mammals which use hopping as a means of motion and can comfortably hop to attain speeds of 16 mph and as much as 44 mph over short distances.
Facts about Kangaroos
• The term kangaroo derived from the Guugu Yimithirr word ganguruu in reference to the eastern grey kangaroos was first recorded in 1770 by Sir Joseph Banks as “kanguru.”
• As an important part of Australian culture and a national image, the kangaroo appears on the Australian coat of arms as an unofficial symbol. It is also used as an emblem on the Royal Australian Air Force as well as by many of Australia’s prominent organizations.
• Although the subject of much controversy, kangaroos are traditionally hunted for their leather hides and meat in an effort to protect grazing land. Kangaroo meat due to its low level of fat offers many health benefits when compared with traditional meats.
• In 2011 it was estimated that 34 million kangaroos lived in Australia recognizing an increase in population of around nine million from that recorded in 2010.
• The Red Kangaroo which habitats Australia’s arid and semi-arid regions is the largest extant marsupial worldwide. The rangelands of western New South Wales is known to consist of the highest population of Red kangaroos. This widespread of the Red kangaroos in the region has often resulted in the species mistakenly referred to as the most abundant type of kangaroo next to the eastern grey kangaroo.
• An adult male eastern grey kangaroo can measure up to six feet tall and weigh as much as 200 pounds while the smaller western grey kangaroo found on the southern part of Western and South Australia near the coast and along the Darling River basin can measure up to four feet and weigh as much as 120 pounds.
• Though different species of kangaroos are known for varying diets, kangaroos are generally grazing herbivores and as such will feed mostly on a variety of grasses, shrubs and fungi. Predominantly grazers kangaroos have adaptable teeth. When grazing, their incisors are used to crop grass close to the ground, while their molars are used to chop and grind grass.
• Adept swimmers kangaroos use waterways as means of escape when threatened by a predator. Though they have few natural predators, a kangaroo if pursued into water by a predator will use its forepaws to force the predator underwater in an attempt to drown it.
• Many species of kangaroos are crepuscular and nocturnal spending much of their days and cool evenings resting in the shade and will mostly move about and feed at nights or during the early mornings.
• Kangaroos live and travel by forming groups of 10 or more individuals known as, “mobs”. These mobs which are often dominated by the largest male sometimes referred to as boomers, bucks or jacks , offer some protection for weaker kangaroos within the group. Relative to the geographic region of the mob will, the size and stability of the group will vary with larger groups displaying a higher interactions and complex social structures than that seen with in other groups of animals such as in cattle, horses, and pigs.
• Kangaroos engage in sexual activity by way of consort pairs. Females will attract males using noticeable signals. Males respond curling their upper lips exposing their front teeth and sniffing her urine to see if she is in oestrus. This behavior is known as the fiehmen response.
• Female kangaroos will give birth to one offspring at a time. Newborns which are referred to as joeys can weigh as little as 0.03 ounces and will crawl into its mother’s pouch after birth. Probably the best known characteristic of the female kangaroos is, like most marsupials, they use their pouch or marsupial to nurse and carry their undeveloped fetus or joey. When the joey is born a female kangaroo will carry the joey until it reaches the age of one year.
• Eye disease though rare is occasionally reported among kangaroos. The disease which was first reported in 1994, in central New South Wales was later seen in Victoria and South Australia. Later in 1996 kangaroo blindness has made its way to Western Australia. Studies revealed that the cause of the disease was from a virus known as the Wallal virus commonly found in two species of flies. Further studies also revealed that less than three percent of the kangaroos exposed to the virus developed the disease.
• Though there have been a few reports of kangaroos attacking humans without provocation, kangaroos are naturally shy and in most cases pose no threat to humans. To date there has been only one documented incident of a kangaroo fatally attacking a human. This case occurred in 1936 in New South Wales when a hunter was killed while trying to rescue his two dogs from an enraged conflict with a kangaroo.
Woodland Park Zoo Tree Kangaroo Webcam
The Woodland Park Zoo located in Seattle Washington fosters a wildlife and habitat Tree Kangaroo conservation program in the support and protection of the endangered species of Tree Kangaroo population in Papua New Guinea.
The Woodland Park Zoo since 1997 which has experienced the birth of 11 Matschie’s Tree Kangaroos Zoo offers online viewers with live streaming of their resident Tree Kangaroos by way of their Tree Kangaroo Zoo webcam.