Last Reviewed and Updated on June 24, 2022
One of the most recognizable animals of the Australian continent, kangaroos are truly something else. Their unique physiology and some of the traits not seen in many other animals make them even more interesting.
Want to learn more about these hopping mammals? Read through some of the most amazing facts about kangaroos.
1. There are 4 living species of kangaroos
There are 4 living species of kangaroos;
The red kangaroo (Osphranter rufus) is the largest of the species. The males of this species have red-brown fur, females have a more gray appearance.
The eastern gray kangaroo (Macropus giganteus), also known as the great gray kangaroo or the forest kangaroo, is the second-largest kangaroo.
The western gray kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus) is a little bit smaller.
There is also the antilopine kangaroo (osphranter antilopinus).
2. Kangaroos are the only large animal that uses hopping as a primary way to move around
While many animals jump and hop, most use it as a means to escape predators, not as a primary means of moving around. Kangaroos are one of the rare species that use hopping as a primary means of locomotion and are the only large animal to do so. One of the most fun facts about kangaroos!
3. They are herbivores
Their diet consists mainly of leaves and grass. They will also eat fruit, bark, tree sap, seeds, and flowers.
4. Kangaroos can challenge each other to a duel, but a duel can be declined
Kangaroos fight for females, water sources, or sports. One male can challenge another to a ritualized fight, but the challenge can be declined.
5. Babies are born prematurely and continue to develop in the pouch
One of the most fascinating things about kangaroos is how they give birth and how the baby kangaroos develop. The gestation period is short, with baby kangaroos being born 31-36 days and when they are born they are still at a very early stage of their development.
Only their forelimbs are developed and this allows the baby kangaroo to climb to the pouch, attach to a teat and continue its development. They will stay in the pouch for about 9 months on average before they start leaving it for the first time.
6. Female kangaroos can freeze their pregnancies
Not enough food? Draught? No worries, kangaroos can halt the development of the embryos, this is known as embryonic diapause. This can extend the pregnancy for up to 11 months if needed.
7. They are almost constantly pregnant
This is one of the most interesting facts about kangaroos. The female kangaroo is pregnant in permanence, she can get pregnant again as soon as the baby kangaroo is born and goes to the pouch. They are pregnant most of their adult life. Their reproduction is fascinating on many levels, isn’t it?
8. The female can produce two types of milk
One for the newborn and one for the joey already in the pouch. Two kangaroo joeys can be in the pouch at the same time.
9. Males do not produce sperm during droughts
This ensures better survival rates for the kangaroos.
10. Only the female kangaroo has a pouch
As female kangaroos are the ones that carry their kids around it only makes sense.
11. A group of kangaroos is called a mob, court, or troupe
As kangaroos are quite social animals, seeing a group of them is common.
12. A male kangaroo is called a buck, a female doe and baby roo is called a joey
There are alternative names in use also, a male kangaroo is also called a boomer or a jack, and a female a flyer or a jill.
13. Most kangaroos are left-handed
Kangaroos exhibit a preference for using their left hand when completing tasks such as grooming and feeding as shown by this study.
14. Their tail is used as a 3rd leg
It’s a fact kangaroos have strong tails, but did you know they use them as a third leg? When they are slowly hopping around they will use the tail to help them move around. When they are moving fast, the tail is used as a counterbalance.
The mails will also use their tail in fights, “standing” only on their tail while they deliver their strong kick.
15. Many kangaroos are nocturnal and crepuscular
They are most active during sunrise and sunset. They are also active at night, and somewhat active during the day as well.
16. Kangaroos can’t walk backward
They can only jump forward and can!t jump backward. They are one of the rare animals that aren’t capable of moving backward. Now that’s a fun fact about kangaroos.
17. They can swim
They might not look the part, but they are pretty good swimmers. Their tail is pretty handy when it comes to swimming.
18. On top of swimming, they can also drown their predators
This is one of the freakiest facts about kangaroos. It may sound crazy but kangaroos can lure their predators into the water and when they are chest-deep they will attempt to drown their attacker with their hands. You won’t be able to forget this anytime soon.
19. They don’t have many predators
Dingoes, eagles, and wild dogs pose a threat to young kangaroos and less so to the adult population. Humans are a threat to them.
20. They are native to Australia and New Guinea
They can only be found in Australia and New Guinea.
21. Their attacks can be deadly
They pack a powerful kick and it can be deadly. Kangaroos develop thick skin on their belly area to protect themselves from their powerful kicks. Their kicks are not only powerful but come with the added danger of sharp claws.
Kangaroo attacks on humans are rare though, but worth keeping this in mind.
22. Male kangaroos check females for signs of fertility
They smell the female’s urine to determine if they are ready for mating.