Kangaroo vs Wallaby Differences between a Kangaroo and Wallaby

wallaby vs kangaroo

Photo: Wallaby vs Kangaroo

Wallabies are smaller than kangaroos, have shorter hind legs and different teeth. Wallabies also live in forests, while kangaroos live on open plains. They both belong to the animal group Macropodidae. The four largest members of this group are called kangaroos. The rest are called wallabies. There is another sub-group called wallaroos, which are an intermediate size between the kangaroos and wallabies. However, most often, wallaroos are simply called wallabies. So, a wallaby is basically an animal that’s smaller than a kangaroo and a wallaroo. But to confuse things a bit further, their sizes may overlap. For example the Musky Rat-kangaroo is tiny and is classified as a wallaby but has "kangaroo" in its name.

Wallaby vs Kangaroo Differences in Size, Legs, Arms, Teeth &Fur

Grey Kangaroo

Photo: Kangaroo


Photo: Wallaby

Body—Kangaroos are generally larger than wallabies. The largest kangaroo, the red kangaroo, can grow to 1.8 meters (6 feet) and weigh up to 90 kilograms (200 pounds). The largest wallaby, the black wallaroo, only grows up to 1.2 meters (4 feet) and weighs up to 27 kilograms (60 pounds). But to confuse things a bit, their sizes may overlap. Also, wallabies tend to have a more hunched back.

Legs—A kangaroo is built for speed and for travelling long distances on open terrain, so its hind legs are relatively longer between the ankles and knees compared to a wallaby which usually prefers forested areas where it needs agility more than speed to navigate through its forest habitat.

comparison of wallaby vs kangaroo teeth

Photo: Kangaroo and Wallaby jaws

Teeth—The wallaby feeds predominately on leaves and therefore, has flat grinding molars (back teeth) with flat crowns and smaller front cutting teeth. On the other hand, the kangaroo feeds mostly on grasses and has more pronounced front cutting teeth, and its back teeth have curved crowns with ridges better suited for cutting and shearing grass. Also, the wallaby keeps its premolars while the kangaroo sheds its.

Fur—Kangaroos have shorter fur with more muted colours, typically grey or red/orange in the case of the red kangaroo. Wallabies are slightly furrier than kangaroos and are more colourful, with two to three colour coats.

Wallaby vs Kangaroo Habitat

Wallby in forested habitat

Wallaby Habitat

Kangaroos habitat

Kangaroo Habitat

Wallabies prefer heavily wooded and rugged areas such as boulder-strewn areas with cliffs, ledges caves, and isolated rock stacks. Very few wallabies live in the dry, arid interior of the continent. Kangaroos live in open grasslands and savannah in temperate to hot climates.

Wallaby vs Kangaroo Diet

Wallabies eat mostly leaves, but they also eat flowers, ferns, moss and even insects. Kangaroos eat mostly grass. Some, like the Red Kangaroo, also eat the leaves and shrubs. Both types of animals prefer to feed at night but also graze early in the morning and late evening when it's cool. They rest in the shade during the day.

Can Kangaroos and Wallabies Mate?

In the wild, kangaroos and wallabies do not mate with each other. Humans have attempted to interbreed the two, but the results have been unsuccessful. Where there have been live births, the offspring have usually been sterile and not capable of reproducing themselves.

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