Red Kangaroo Largest Kangaroo in the World

The Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus) is a herbivorous marsupial macropod. Which means it eats plants, hops on its hind legs and raises its young in a pouch on its abdomen. It is the largest kangaroo in the world and also the world's largest marsupial. An adult red kangaroo can grow to 2 meters in height and weight as much as 90 kilos. It can hop at a top speed of over 60km/h, with each hop covering an astonishing distance of up to 9 meters. It can also leap over obstacles 3 meters high. About 15 million red kangaroos living in the Australian Outback.


Red Kangaroo – Description What Does a Red Kangaroo Look Like?

The red kangaroo, like all other kangaroos, has a triangular-shaped body with large powerful hind legs and feet, together with a large solid tail. The male is reddish brown in colour with a lighter coloured underside. Males also develop proportionately larger shoulders and arms than females, which is beneficial to them when engaging in ritualistic fighting with other males. The female is generally blue-grey in colour, but in the more arid zones the female's colour is similar to that of the male. They also have a lighter coloured underside. The male red kangaroo can grow to 1.3-2 meters in height and weight 55-90kgs. The female is about half the size of the male. The red kangaroo has a more squared-off snout than other kangaroos. It has long, thick eyelashes that help to protect their eyes from dust and the glare of the sun. They have white patches at the base of their ear and at the corners of their mouths. Their paws and toes are black in colour.

Red kangaroos live in groups of between 2 to 4 members but there is no social structure in these loose-knit groupings. Where food is plentiful as many as 1,500 kangaroos may congregate in one location. A group of kangaroos is referred to as a 'mob of kangaroos’. A red kangaroo lives for 14- 22 years.

Related: What is a Kangaroo? – Detailed Explanation


Red Kangaroo – Specialised Adoptions How the Red Kangaroo Stays Cool

kangaroo has a number of special adaptations for dealing with the extreme heat of its environment.
• The red kangaroo is mainly crepuscular. It is active at dawn, dusk and into the night. It rarely moves about during the day.
• It minimising its activity during daylight and shelters under vegetation such as saltbushes or mulga bushes to keep cool.
• It stands with its large tail pulled under its body to shade its tail from the sun.
• It has larger nasal passages, than other types of kangaroos, to moisten and cool the hot air it breaths in.
• The red kangaroo pants (like a dog) to evaporate moisture from internal body surfaces to cool its core body temperature, especially its brain.
• Like other kangaroos, the red kangaroo sweats only while moving. And also spreads saliva on its forearms for cooling.


Red Kangaroo – Habitat & Distribution Where Does The Red Kangaroo Live

Red kangaroos live in the arid and semi-arid parts of mainland Australia. They avoid the wetter climates of the north and north-east which are tropical and semi-tropical, and also the south-eastern coastal regions of the country which have temperate colder climates. Red kangaroo ranges have actually increased since European settlement as a consequence of the clearing of large extents of woodland for livestock and agriculture making new open spaces that kangaroos can use.

Red kangaroos prefer open plains, scrublands, grasslands and desert with at sufficient vegetation to provide them with shade and shelter from the hot sun. The red kangaroo is not territorial and typically has a home range of approximately 64sq kilometres but will travel further in times of scarcity.


Red Kangaroo – Diet What Does The Red Kangaroo Eat?

Red kangaroos are herbivorous that eat green vegetation. Their main diet are grasses but they also eat forbs and leaves.

It uses its large outward projecting front incisor teeth on the lower jaw to slice through grass and leaves and its large molars at the back of its mouth chop and grinds its food. It spends 43.5% of each day in searching for food grazing and chewing.

The Kangaroo has a two chambered stomach: the sacciform and the tubiform. Chewed food is passed into the sacciform where bacteria, fungi and protozoa begin the fermentation so that the kangaroo can extract nutrients from its high cellulose diet. Once he food is well fermented it is passed on to the tubiform where stomach acids and enzymes further break down the food before nutrients and water are extracted. The red kangaroo extracts most of the water it requires from moisture in the food it eats and can go without drinking for long periods of time.


Red Kangaroo - Reproduction Baby Kangaroo (Joey)

Like all kangaroos, the red kangaroo's reproductive cycle is extraordinary. While the female can give birth to only one offspring at a time; it can be nurturing young in three different stages of development at the same time and even producing milk of different composition in different teats for these babies. In other mammals all the offspring of a litter are of the same age.

Red kangaroos can breed all year long. Usually a neonate emerges 33 days after mating and makes its ways into its mothers pouch where it develops for another 190 days before it emerges from its pouch and starts to explore the world outside. It will still suckle from its mother until it is about an year old.

Related: Kangaroo Reproduction – Detailed Explanation


Predators and Threats What Kills Red Kangaroos?

Being large animals with powerful clawed feet, adult red kangaroos do not have natural predators. Young animals fall prey to eagles, dingoes, foxes, feral cats and several raptors.

Both domestic and wild dogs also attack kangaroos. The kangaroo is a good swimmer and if pursued by a predator, it may flee into waterways and use its clawed forepaws to grab its assailant and drown it by holding it underwater.

The major causes of red kangaroo fatalities are droughts, motor vehicle road kills, hunting and intentional culling by governments. Permits are issued for the killing of 1-2 million animals each year.


Kangaroo - Conservation Status Is the Kangaroo Endangered?

The red kangaroo was never very numerous before European settlement. The introduction of pastoral industry and the associated infrastructure such as watering-holes and improved pastures for cattle has provided the ideal conditions for the red kangaroo to thrive. Subsequently their numbers are believed to have increased.

The red kangaroo is not endangered and classified as "least concern" by the  IUCN. It is protected by law.


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