What are kaengurus doing in Australia

The kangaroo: Australia's famous marsupial

With their strong hind legs and thick tail, kangaroos can jump very far. Source: © Fernando Cortes, shutterstock

The kangaroo is - perhaps next to the koala bear - Australia's most famous animal. The marsupial is between 25 and 165 centimeters tall, moves by jumping mainly on its hind legs, has a strong support tail, weak front legs and a small head.
Marsupials used to be at home on every continent. Today we only find them in New Guinea, Australia and South America. The marsupials of Australia are the most diverse. These are mammals that, after very early birth, develop in a pouch on their mother's belly. The name comes from this pouch, which is supported on the belly by special pouch bones.


After a short gestation period (30-40 days), a baby about the size of a thumb is born. After birth, it crawls into its mother's pouch and hugs a teat there to complete its development. The growing pups stay in the pouch for about eight months, until it becomes too difficult for them to squeeze into it. Before that, they like to return to the bag after their excursions and look out with their heads.


The kangaroos inhabit bush and grass plains as well as open forests. Some kangaroos can even climb trees. With their strong hind legs, they can make very long jumps. During these jumps, the thick tail serves as a support and to maintain balance. The front legs, on the other hand, are much smaller. They protect themselves from excessive heat between the rocks or in the shade of the trees. They lick the soles of their paws for cooling.

Many ways

About 50 species of kangaroo live in large numbers in Australia. While the smallest kangaroos are only as big as rabbits, the largest species can grow taller than a human, such as the red and gray giant kangaroos. The wallaby is a special species. This kangaroo is characterized by a long narrow head and large ears, it is about three feet high and weighs an average of ten pounds. The tree kangaroos live in the treetops of the tropical rainforests of northeast Queensland. The rock kangaroo is also noteworthy.


The greatest enemy of these animals is humans. Australian ranchers kill thousands of kangaroos every year because they believe they are stealing feed from sheep and cattle. In fact, the rapid reproduction of some species of kangaroo leads to not inconsiderable conflicts. Seven species of kangaroo have therefore been approved for shooting by the Australian government.
Since the colonization of Australia, some species of kangaroo have already become extinct. In addition to hunting, animals such as dogs or foxes introduced to the continent were the main cause.

You can find out more about exciting animals in WAS IST WAS Volume 13 Wilde Tiere. Untamed in the wild