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Facts About Red Kangaroos

Raksha Kulkarni
The red kangaroo is the largest marsupial living in the dry parts of Australia. This pouched mammal likes to search for food in dry, open lands where there are no trees and shrubs. This story gives you a detailed insight into the behavior, characteristics, habitat, along with other important information regarding this kangaroo.

Special Caregivers

Red kangaroos are known to engage in a very unique parenting behavior. They adopt the young ones of other females and take care of them as their own.
The red kangaroo, a resident of Australia, either hops or crawls. It moves around in small groups called 'mobs'. It belongs to the family 'Macropodidae' where 'macropod' in Greek means 'large foot'. It is also a marsupial, which indicates that it raises its young in the pouch.
A baby kangaroo is called a 'joey' and lives in the mother's pouch for many months. A species with so many unique and interesting features, the red kangaroo is found in abundant numbers and is categorized as 'Least Concern' by the IUCN, unlike other marsupial animals that are extinct.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infra class: Marsupialia
Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Macropodidae
Genus: Macropus
Species: M. Rufus

Physical Appearance

Size and Lifespan
➜ Height: 35.5 - 43.5 inches.
➜ Weight: Males can weigh up to 200 pounds.
➜ Females are lighter (40 - 88 pounds).
➜ Lifespan: Up to 14 years.
A male red kangaroo is reddish-brown in color, and a female is bluish-gray, though some arid zone females may look like males. The coat fur is short. It has two hind legs that are big and strong, two short forelimbs with claws that are used in 'boxing' with other kangaroos or enemies, and a big strong tail to support it while jumping or also used as the third leg.


The red kangaroo is found in dry, semi-arid areas where it rains less than 500 - 800 mm. It is also found in grassy plains and also the desert regions of Australia. It prefers open plains with a few trees for shade.


The red kangaroo is an herbivore and feeds on grass and other plants. It doesn't need a lot of water to survive. It has the ability to retain water from the grass it eats. Sometimes, it may have to travel distances to find food.


➤ It is a nocturnal animal. Most of its day is spent resting in a shade, and it is rarely found searching for food. As the sun goes down, it starts its day!
➤It lives in the desert areas, so it has its own ways to cool itself down. It licks its palm and arms, and as the air blows across, the saliva evaporates and carries away the heat. It also pants to stay cool.
➤ It is a calm animal, but can get rough at times. Usually, a male fights with other males to decide who mates with the female. Fights include scratching, kicking, and wrestling.
➤ It is found in large mobs when there is food and water scarcity, and then it separates, as new vegetation starts growing.
➤ They have powerful hind legs, and their tails helps them to balance their body in a bipedal hop as they move forward.

➤ It has been observed that large kangaroos achieve a running speed of 64 kph wherein they leap by reaching a height of almost 6 ft and cover a distance that is as long as 25 ft.


The red kangaroo can breed all year round. The female has an unusual ability known as 'embryonic diapause', which means she can pause or delay the birth of her baby. Hence, one baby is born at a time. The young is born blind, hairless, and is pink in color. It also has strong legs and tiny claws, but is not larger than a cherry in size.
Just after it is born, it crawls into the mother's pouch and feeds on the milk for 4 - 5 months. A joey then starts peeping out. After some more weeks, it comes out and explores the world. In this stage too, the joey pokes its head in the pouch and feeds on the mother's milk, once in a while.
Eventually, after a complete year or so, it is independent and starts eating grass and taking care of itself. This ability helps a female nurture three kids at a time, one in the pouch, one walking besides her, and one in the embryo stage that is paused.
The embryo resumes development a day after the first young permanently leaves the pouch, and is born around 31 days later. This ability also helps it maintain the population as it delays the birth when in drought or any problem.


Many predators like the marsupial lion, wonambi, and megalania are extinct. The current predators of the red kangaroo include dingoes, eagles, and humans. If threatened, a kangaroo will run into the water sources and use its fore paws to drown the predator or may just fight with the enemy.
It is largely hunted by humans for its meat, skin for leather, and sometimes shot as pests in agriculture. But, the hunting is controlled under nationally approved management plans, and there has been no large decline in the kangaroo population. The other factors that affect its population are climate changes and altered fire regimes.

Some Interesting Facts

✺ Many Australians call female red kangaroos, "blue fliers" because they have a blue coat.
✺ There is a scientific reason behind red kangaroos hopping faster than an animal running on four legs. As it hops, its diaphragm goes up and down, which vacates and refills the lungs automatically. Hence, kangaroos can hop faster and for far distances.
✺ Females grow to a certain height only, but the males keep growing till they die.
✺ These kangaroos can bite when threatened by an enemy like a dingo.
Fortunately, the red kangaroo is nowhere near extinction until now, and is conserved and protected by law. After all ironically, it is only the humans who destroy their habitats and kill them, and they only impart laws to protect the species!