Kangaroo A Large Hopping Animal from Australia
What is a Kangaroo? Description of a Kangaroo
The 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.
How Did the Kangaroo Get its Name? Where does the word 'Kangaroo' come from?
The cassowary has black, coarse and glossy hair-like feathers. Its wings are tiny, having shrunk to the point of insignificance. These wings have no feathers, but instead have a few long, modified quills, like porcupine quills, which curve around its body. It has no tail feathers.
The cassowary has large forward-facing amber-coloured eyes and a long blue and purple feather-less neck with drooping red double wattles (the dangling bits like a turkey).
The most prominent feather of the cassowary is its pointy helmet called a "casque". The casque is made of a sponge-like material and covered with a thick layer of keratin, the same material our fingernails are made of. Although it looks solid it actually is soft enough to be pressed. Each casque has its one unique shape and grows throughout the animal's life. The purpose of this odd-looking feature isn't fully understood. It has been suggested that it serves as a "crash helmet" as it travels through the dense rainforest; a decoration to signal dominance; an amplifier to hear other cassowaries better; or even a radiator to keep the bird cool. The uniqueness of each bird's casque makes it easy to identify one individual from another.
It has strong scaly legs each with three toes. The inside toe has a dagger-shaped spike which is generally used for scratching the ground but it is also a lethal weapon for fighting and defending itself.
The Cassowary has been recorded sprinting at speeds of up to 50 kph (30mph) even through the forests. It can also jump as high as 1.5m (5ft). They are also capable swimmers crossing rivers and even swimming in the ocean.
What Does a Kangaroo Eat?Kangaroo Diet
Kangaroos are herbivores. They eat mostly grass. Some like the Red Kangaroo also eats the leaves off shrubs.
They 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.
How does A Kangaroo Hop?Its Got Springs
The 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.
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