The Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus)
is the largest marsupial in the world. It is native to Australia,
particularly in the dry grasslands that cover the continent. Red
Kangaroos are in the macropodidae family which means "large footed,"
rightly so since the animal has large feet with long tendons that helps
it propel its body when it is hopping from predators, toward shelter, or
foraging for food. Although this species is named the Red
Kangaroo, colors are variable among the sexes. Males, also known
as "bucks", "old men" or "boomers", can grow to be 80 to 90kg and
usually have reddish-brown fur. Females, who grow to
be only 40 kg, are usually a grayish-blue color and are nicknamed "blue
fliers." Kangaroos travel in various sized packs called "mobs" and
the young are called "joeys." A mob usually consists of one
dominant male, many adult females, and joeys of both sexes.
All kangaroos are classified as
marsupials because they have pouches located in the anterior portion of
their bodies that function as "holders" for their young. These
pouches serve to provide a space for continual growth for the joey as
well as protection from predators and dry conditions. Red
Kangaroos can live as long as thirty years if they can make it past
their first year of life in harsh, dry conditions. Kangaroos also
have a unique mechanism for locomotion. Instead of walking and
running on quadruped, kangaroos stand up on two feet and use their long
tails as a driving force to help them hop from place to place.
This mechanism of locomotion is extremely efficient and allows them to
reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, jump distances of 29 feet and
heights of 6 feet.
A Red Kangaroo can be
differentiated from other species by its naked nose, black and white patches
on each side of its muzzle and a white stripe that starts at the nose and
continues to the ear. Some would argue that the Red Kangaroo is
the most striking of all kangaroo species because of its powerful build
and graceful movement.
I find the Red Kangaroo to be an
extremely interesting species, mainly due to its relatively isolated
habitat. People who do not live in or visit areas where this species
exists will most often never see one in the wild. Since the Red
Kangaroo is a marsupial, its means of reproduction are fascinating and
much different from the placental mammals that are native to North America.
I found it both interesting and fun to research and create a site
dedicated to the Red Kangaroo. As a self-proclaimed world
traveler, I have had
the privilege of seeing kangaroos in the wild and in captivity and when
speaking with a few Australians, found out that kangaroos are loved
except when they try to cross the highways in front of a car!
However, Kangaroos are
easily recognized by people of all ages and nationalities for being such
a unique and memorable species and I felt it only right to create a
webpage to further educate those interested in the Red Kangaroo.
was created for Organismal Biology (BIO 203) at the
Wisconsin-La Crosse on 4.26.07
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