Description of the Red Kangaroo

Red Kangaroo resting in sand
Looking for another cool spot

Latin name:

Macropus rufus

The Basics:

They live:
in groups called "mobs" in the dry inlands of central Australia.
They number in the millions.
They are:
the largest marsupials in the world and can run up to 45 miles per hour.
They eat: mostly grass and foliage of low-growing shrubs.
They weigh: males average 188 pounds, females slightly less.
Their life span is: 10-12 years in the wild, 22-26 years at the zoo
+ Hopping along on powerful hind legs, they can cover 25 feet of ground in a single leap!
+ Their large, strong tail helps them balance when standing upright.
+ Their long ears help them to listen for the sounds of their predators (wild dogs, humans, cars).
Long kangaroo ears
Kangaroo "tripod" stance

Red Kangaroos are grazers, herbivores who inhabit open plains type habitat. Their unique body shape is well adapted to this environment. Their ability to balance on their back legs and tail allow them to "stand tall" to watch for potential predators. One they really watch for is the Dingo, an Australian wild dog.

Combining a kangaroo's tail with its hind legs can act as a tripod, allowing each one to extend its body even taller, if need be. The largest red kangaroos, usually male, can stand up to 6' '7" or more but the average height is around 5 feet, and they can weigh up to about 200 pounds. Red Kangaroos are the largest of the kangaroo breeds.

Powerful hind legs

Now about those "feet" -- Red Kangaroos are designed to move quickly from danger. They are able to lope along at a leisurely 12 miles per hour and can pick it up in emergencies, having been recorded at speeds up to 45 mph. They can jump almost 10 feet high and over 30 feet the long way, if they need to. So -- these marsupials can really move!

Marsupials with baby "Joeys"

That's right, Red Kangaroos are marsupials. That means they carry their young in a pouch until they are big enough to live on their own. Young kangaroos are called joeys, and they start out pretty tiny when they are born: about 2 cm, or the size a cherry. Once they are born, they crawl up the mother to the pouch where they find yummy refreshments. They hang out in the mother's pouch until they get bigger. They will need to drink a lot of milk to get to the right kangaroo size.

Photo credits:
All of the photos on this page were taken by our teammate, Marcia, in the Red Kangaroo exhibit at the Milwaukee County Zoo.