Kangaroo (Can-ga-roo)

A male kangaroo is called a boomer
A female is called a flyer
A baby is called a joey

Kangaroo Hopping at sunset
Grey Kangaroo

What is a Kangaroo?

Red KangarooA Kangaroo is a macropod which means "big foot". It is a marsupial mammal. Marsupials like the Kangaroo carry their babies in a pouch in their abdomen (tummy).

There are over 40 different types (species) of Kangaroo. The smaller ones are usually called Wallabies. The largest is the Red Kangaroo. It stands taller than a man and can weigh 85 kgs. It is the largest marsupial in the world.

A female kangaroo carries its baby in its pouch. The baby is born really tiny and crawls up into its mother's pouch. The baby lives in its mother's pouch till its quite large. Even when its quite large it still drinks milk from a teat in its mother's pouch.

It sometimes jumps into its mother's pouch head first when frightened.

Kangaroo Licking its Paws

How Did the Kangaroo Get its Name?

When European explorers first saw these strange hopping animals they asked a native Australian (aborigine) what they were called.

He replied "kangaroo" meaning "I don't understand" your question.

The explorers thought this was the animal's name. And that's how the kangaroo got its name.

Kangaroo Grazing on a Golf Course

What Does a Kangaroo Eat?

Kangaroos are herbivores. They eat mostly grass. Some like the Red Kangaroo also eats the leaves off shrubs..

Kangaroo resting in the shadeThey prefer to graze at night when it’s cool but also graze early in the morning and late evening when it’s cool. They rest in the shade during the day.

The Kangaroo has a chambered stomach similar to other herbivores like cattle and sheep. Like cattle they regurgitate their food and chew it again and swallow it. This extra munching breaks down the rough fibres of their diet and greatly improves their digestion.

The Kangaroo is well adapted to the dry hot Australian climate. It needs very little water to survive. It can survive without drinking for months.

Kangaroos Boxing

Do Kangaroos Box?

The kangaroo fights by attacking its opponent with its front paws (which have sharp claws) or by kicking them with its powerful hind legs. It doesn't actually box like humans do.

Kangaroo Hopping

How does A Kangaroo Hop?

Pogo stickThe Kangaroo moves by hopping on its powerful hind legs. It uses its thick long tail to balance its body while hopping. It can hop at up to 60kmh (40mph). It can also leap over obstacles up to 3m (10ft) high.

Kangaroos' legs are specially designed for hopping and jumping. They can only move their legs together. This is perfect for hopping. That is to say that it can’t move their legs independently like we can. For this reason they can’t walk like other animals do. They only hop..

A Kangaroo's legs act like powerful springs. It jumps using its powerful long hind legs and when its toes touch down the tendons in its legs act like giant springs, part of this compressed energy is then used for the next jump. The kangaroo's legs works on the same principle as a Pogo Stick. In this way a Kangaroo uses very little energy to move itself.

Because of the unusual shape of its legs and its bulky tail a kangaroo can't walk or move backwards.

Kangaroos are also good swimmers.



The Kangaroo hops using only its hind legs. A rabbit hops using all four legs.





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