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Fabulous Facts About Kangaroos

Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
As unbelievable as it may seem, but kangaroos―the largest marsupials on the planet―are actually the size of lima beans at birth. That also goes to prove that there's a lot more to kangaroos than simply 'hopping' around.
Kangaroos are marsupial species, i.e., mammals having a pouch in which they carry their offspring, native to Australia and New Guinea. Other than their pouch, they are typically characterized by their locomotion, which is hopping. Like emus, even kangaroos cannot move backward.

Facts about Kangaroos

In total, there are about 50 species of kangaroos. Of these, the red kangaroo is the largest. In fact, it is the largest marsupial in the world. Collectively, they are grouped under the taxonomic family Macropodidae, alongside wallaroos, wallabies, and tree kangaroos.
Kangaroos are highly social animals and prefer to live in groups, which are known as 'mobs'. A single mob can have as many as 100 kangaroos at times.
While a male kangaroo is called buck, jack, or boomer, the female is known as doe, jill, or flyer. As for the young one, it is referred to as joey. The origin of the word 'kangaroo' is still a subject of debate.
Larger species leap to about 6 feet and cover considerable distance in one jump. It is the big feet and strong hind legs that aid them in their unique locomotion. Their small head and strong muscular tail, which is used to balance the body, are other adaptive features of kangaroos.
True herbivores that they are, they prefer grazing and derive necessary nutrients from the grasses they eat. Some species are also known to feed on young shoots of plants.
The tree kangaroos, on the other hand, have wider food alternatives, with their diet including small birds and eggs of other animals in the wild.
Their specialized teeth enable them to feed on grasses close to the ground. Like pandas, their digestive system is adapted for low-nutritious and high-fibrous foods.
They regurgitate food and churn again. Their digestion is similar to that of other ruminating animals. Bacterial strains present in their stomach aid in reducing methane gas production.
The abdominal pouch (marsupium) serves as a carrier for the young joey until its postnatal growth and development. On the underside, females have four teats. The joey lacks ears and eyes, and looks like a pink-colored, hairless worm.
Only a single joey is born at a time, or in a year. Immediately after birth, the young one climbs to its mother's pouch. It continues to suckle for 12 months or so, and remains in the pouch for 9 months.
In some case, kangaroos carry an embryo, which does not develop till the previous joey stops suckling its mother.

And Some Interesting Facts

  • The number of kangaroos is increasing day-by-day in its native habitat. In fact, it is believed that there are more kangaroos than humans in Australia.
  • The two legs of a kangaroo are dependent on each other, such that one leg cannot move independently. Hence, they hop instead of walking normally.
  • Though they just hop, they are very good at it. Some kangaroos can move at a speed of approximately 56 km per hour, with each leap covering 25 feet at a stretch.
  • Kangaroos are not just gifted with good eyesight, but also have the ability to swivel their ears to collect sound waves from all directions.
  • Even though kangaroos need water, they rarely drink it. Instead, they rely on water they obtain from green vegetation that they feed on.
  • An adult red kangaroo can live without water for several months. The nocturnal behavior also aids in conserving water by reducing sweating.
  • In the event of fight, they use their forelimbs to deliver strong punches, and hind legs to deliver kicks. Males often fight amongst themselves to get attention from females.
While they have an average lifespan of around 6 years in the wild, there do exist reports of some kangaroos surviving for as long as 23 years. Scientists studying global warming and agricultural emissions strongly opine the need for farming kangaroos for meat instead of cattle.