Red Kangaroo Range
- Average life span in the wild:
- Up to 23 years
- Head and body, 3.25 to 5.25 ft (1 to 1.6 m); tail, 35.5 to 43.5 in (90 to 110 cm)
- 200 lbs (90 kg)
- Group name:
- Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man
Please add a "relative" entry to your dictionary.
The red kangaroo is the world's largest marsupial. Females have one baby at a time, which at birth is smaller than a cherry. The infant immediately climbs into its mother's pouch and does not emerge for two months. Until they reach about eight months of age, threatened young kangaroos, called joeys, will quickly dive for the safety of mom's pouch. As they grow, joeys' heads and feet can often be seen hanging out of the pouch.
Red kangaroos hop along on their powerful hind legs and do so at great speed. A red kangaroo can reach speeds of over 35 miles (56 kilometers) an hour. Their bounding gait allows them to cover 25 feet (8 meters) in a single leap and to jump 6 feet (1.8 meters) high.
Female red kangaroos are smaller, lighter, and faster than males. They also boast a blue-hued coat, so many Australians call them "blue fliers."
Larger male kangaroos are powerfully built. Like many species, male kangaroos sometimes fight over potential mates. They often lean back on their sturdy tail and "box" each other with their strong hind legs. Kangaroos can also bite and wield sharp claws, which they may do in battle with an enemy like a dingo.
Red kangaroos live in Australia's deserts and open grasslands, gathering in groups called mobs. Aboriginal and European Australians have spent centuries clearing open tracts of land and establishing water sources—both of which are boons to kangaroo populations. Many millions of these animals roam Australia, and considerable numbers are killed each year for their skins and meat, which is becoming a more popular human food.
The loss of animal species is irreversible and potentially catastrophic, not to mention heartrendingly sad. Where do we stand? Face the facts with this quiz.
The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the oldest species of seal on the planet. But their tenure in paradise is perilously close to its end; only about 1,100 seals remain in the wild.
They’re rarely seen. Even less often photographed. Bryde’s whales rocket through Pacific shallows to gorge on fish. Dive in for more.
Find out what National Geographic Society is doing to save animals all over the world, and learn what you can do to help.