Red Kangaroo The Biggest Kangaroo?

Red Kangaroo hopping in Australian Outback

Photo: Red Kangaroo hopping in the Australian Outback

The red kangaroo is the largest kangaroo. It has a muscular body with large, powerful hind legs and feet, and a prominent tail. The male red kangaroo is orange-red in colour, 1.3-2m tall, weighs 55-90kgs and hops at 60km/h. Each hop can cover an astonishing distance of 9 meters, and it can even leap over obstacles 3 meters high. With its muscular physique with broad shoulders and strong arms, the male kangaroo frequently flexes its muscles when engaging in ritualistic fighting with other males and to impress females. (Like men flex their biceps).

The female red kangaroo is about half the size of the male, blue-grey in colour except in the more arid areas, where the female is also orange-red. Both males and females have a more squared-off snout than other kangaroos and thick eyelashes. In addition, they have lighter-coloured undersides and black paws and toes.

Photo: Red Kangaroo seated using tail for support

Red kangaroos behaviour is similar to other kangaroos. They live in groups of between 2 to 4 members. Usually, it is females and young that form these groupings. There is no social structure in these loose-knit groupings. Where food is plentiful, as many as 1,500 kangaroos may congregate in a single location. Red kangaroos have the most aggressive behaviour of all kangaroos. Being large animals, their kicks and clawing can be dangerous to humans. Males also engage in ritualised fighting, known as boxing.

The red kangaroo is a herbivorous marsupial mammal referred to as a macropod. Its scientific name is Macropus rufus which means "long red-haired". Another scientific name used is Osphranter rufus. Osphranter being a subgenus of Macropus. The red kangaroo is the national animal of Australia. It is displayed on the Australian coat of arms. Red kangaroos have a lifespan of 14- 22 years.

• What is a Kangaroo? – Detailed Explanation

Red Kangaroo Habitat Where Do Red Kangaroos Live?

Photo: Red Kangaroo Habitat Map

Red kangaroos live in the arid and semi-arid parts of the Australian Outback. They prefer open plains, scrublands, grasslands, and deserts with sufficient vegetation to provide shade and shelter from the hot sun. It typically has a home range of approximately 64sq kilometres but will travel further in times of scarcity. The areas red kangaroo inhabit have increased since European settlement due to the clearing of large extents of woodland for livestock and agriculture, thus creating new grazing spaces that these kangaroos like.

Red Kangaroo Diet What Do Red Kangaroos Eat?

Photo: Red Kangaroos Drinking from a farmer's dam

The red kangaroo is a herbivore and eats grasses, herbs, shrubs and other vegetation. It occasionally supplements its diet with fruits and seeds. The red kangaroo uses its large outward projecting front incisor teeth on the lower jaw to slice through grass and leaves, and its large molars at the back of its mouth chop and grind its food. It spends 44% of each day searching for food, grazing and chewing.

The Kangaroo has a two-chambered stomach consisting of the sacciform and the tubiform. Chewed food passes into the sacciform where bacteria, fungi, and protozoa begin the fermentation of its food so that the kangaroo can extract nutrients from its high cellulose diet. Once the food is well fermented, it passes on to the tubiform where stomach acids and enzymes further break down the food before nutrients and water are extracted. The red kangaroo extracts most of the water it requires from moisture in the food it eats and can go without drinking for long periods.

Red Kangaroo Reproduction Breeding, Birth, Baby

Photo: Kangaroo baby is only the size of a jellybean

Red kangaroos breed all year round. A baby, known as a joey, emerges 33 days after mating and makes its way into its mother's pouch, where it develops for another 190 days before it emerges from its pouch and starts to explore the world outside. However, it will still suckle from its mother until it is about a year old.

Like all kangaroos, the red kangaroo's reproductive cycle is extraordinary. While the female can give birth to only one offspring at a time; it can raise three joeys at different stages of development at once – one outside the pouch but still suckling, another in the pouch, and the third in the womb developing. (In other mammals, all the offspring of a litter are of the same age.) It even produces milk of different compositions in different teats for its two suckling babies at various stages of development. The female kangaroo can also control the timing of the birth of her embryo, known as a neonate. She does so until the previous joey has left the pouch and also in times of drought and food shortages. This is called embryonic diapause.

• Kangaroo Reproduction – Detailed Explanation

Red Kangaroo Predators & Threats What Kills Red Kangaroos?

Photo: Male Kangaroo muscles

Adult red kangaroos do not have natural predators. Young red kangaroos, however, fall prey to eagles, dingoes, foxes, feral cats, and large lizards.

Domestic and wild dogs occasionally attack kangaroos. The kangaroo is a good swimmer and if pursued by a predator, it may flee into waterways, and use its clawed forepaws to grab its assailant and drown it by holding it underwater.

The major causes of red kangaroo fatalities are droughts, motor vehicle road kills, hunting and culling by governments. Permits are issued to cull 1-2 million animals each year.

Red Kangaroo Conservation Status Are Red Kangaroos Endangered?

The red kangaroo population is estimated to be about 15 million animals. It is not endangered and is classified as an animal of "least concern" by the IUCN. However, it is protected by law.

The red kangaroo was not very numerous before European settlement. However, the introduction of the pastoral industry and the associated infrastructure, such as watering-holes and improved pastures for cattle, has provided the ideal conditions for the red kangaroo to thrive. Subsequently, red kangaroo numbers have increased since European settlement.

Red Kangaroo Facts

  1. The red kangaroo is the largest kangaroo.
  2. It is also the largest marsupial in the world.
  3. It is also the largest Australian native animal.
  4. The red kangaroo grows to 2m tall and weighs up to 90kgs.
  5. It has a top speed of 60kph.
  6. It can also leap over obstacles 3 meters high.
  7. The red kangaroo is found in the drier parts of Australia.
  8. It prefers scrublands, grassland, and desert where there are some trees for shade.
  9. Its primary diet is grasses. However, it also eats other green vegetation such as forbs and leaves.
  10. It gets most of the water it requires from moisture in its food it.
  11. The red kangaroo can go without drinking for long periods of time.
  12. It minimises its activity during daylight and shelters under vegetation to keep cool.
  13. The red kangaroo pants (like a dog) to cool its core body temperature, especially its brain.
  14. It stands with its large tail pulled under its body to shade its tail from the sun.
  15. The red kangaroo has a larger nasal passage than other types of kangaroo. This to moisten and cool the hot air it breathes in.
  16. It is mainly active at dawn, dusk and into the night.
  17. However, red kangaroos sometimes move about during the day.
  18. Like other kangaroos, the red kangaroo sweats only while moving. It also spreads saliva on its forearms to cool itself.
  19. Fighting between males is called boxing.
  20. An adult female kangaroo is always pregnant.
  21. Red kangaroos live in groups of 2–4 members.
  22. An adult kangaroo has no significant predators.
  23. It is too big and too fast for both native and introduced predators.
  24. Young kangaroos fall prey to dingoes and eagles.
  25. Red kangaroos live 14- 22 years.

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