Kangaroos are marsupials and therefore mammals. Like other marsupials, for example, koalas, they live in Australia and on the island of New Guinea. Today there are eleven large, distinct groups of kangaroo species. They got their name from a language of the Australian aborigines.
A kangaroo’s body is long, with a long, sturdy tail at the end. The animal can lean on it when it is standing. When jumping, the tail helps maintain balance. The kangaroo can jump very well thanks to its long, strong legs.
The large kangaroo species usually eat grass. They live in areas that are fairly dry and grow little. That’s why it helps them that they can cover long distances with their leaping running. For a short time, a kangaroo can run at speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour. How fast can a car drive in the city?
A kangaroo’s pregnancy only lasts about three to six weeks. At birth, a kangaroo cub is only two to three centimeters long and weighs less than a gram. Nevertheless, it crawls independently into the mother’s pouch. There it puts the teat in its mouth to drink milk. The teat won’t let go for two or three months. It stays in the bag for about half a year to almost a whole year. Twins are very rare.
What kind of kangaroos are there?
When you hear the word kangaroo, you probably think of the bigger kangaroos like the red kangaroo. But actually, the kangaroos are a family in the animal kingdom, which consists of different species. Eleven genera of kangaroos are known today, and a total of 65 species are in them. Four of them are already extinct.
Some species from the genus “Macropus” are probably best known today. The word means “big foot”. These include the gray kangaroos and the red kangaroos. The latter is the largest species of kangaroo alive today.
A special genus is the tree kangaroos. These animals live in trees, just as the ancestors of the kangaroo probably did. They are threatened or endangered because people often cut down trees that tree kangaroos could live on.
Many people wonder if the wallabies are also kangaroos or something of their own. Wallabies are definitely part of the kangaroo family. The word wallaby is usually used for the smaller species and kangaroo for the four largest species. Most wallaby species are in the genus Macropus, but there is also the swamp wallaby. It’s a genre of its own.
There are also animals whose legs are a bit reminiscent of kangaroos, such as kangaroo rats. These aren’t kangaroos, they’re rats. The rat-kangaroos, on the other hand, were once considered kangaroos, but today they are thought to be a family of their own.
What do kangaroos mean to humans?
The indigenous people hunted kangaroos so that they could eat meat and process the fur. The immigrants from Europe also captured kangaroos, especially large animals. It is particularly dangerous for the kangaroos, however, that the people from Europe use many areas for themselves where kangaroos would otherwise live. But not all species are threatened with extinction. You can still hunt some.
Many Australians are proud of kangaroos. Along with some other animals, it is a national animal, a symbol for the country. Because kangaroos cannot walk backward, they are seen as a sign of progress, that everything is getting better.