Australian Animal Archive

Australian Red Kangaroo
Macropus rufus
(rue'-fus : "red long-foot")

Status: Abundant.

Australian Red Kangaroo

The Red Kangaroo is the dominant species of kangaroo in the drier more arid inland regions of Australia. Red kangaroos are nomads and wander in small groups comprising of one male, several females and their young. The small groups will often join with other small groups to make up larger groups or 'mobs' of several hundreds.

The Red Kangaroo is the largest of all Australian marsupials and the mobs are dominated by gigantic battle-scarred males that can be over six feet tall. When to males are competing for a mates the confrontation is a very dramatic and intense one. Both males grip each other tightly with their large foreclaws, and wrestle, cuff and scratch their opponent, and occasionally balancing on their tails and lashing forward with their hind legs.

Although the Red Kangaroos are well adapted for the arid regions of Australia, they are most abundant in the slightly wetter surrounding plains. They graze during the night on a wide variety of grasses and low herbaceous plants. When food is scarce the red kangaroo may extend its grazing into the early morning and late afternoon.

Older males can be up to 3 times the weight of mature females. Females are sexually mature at 18 month of age while the males do not reach sexual maturity until they reach 2 years of age. A single infant or 'joey' is reared at any one time.

In times of drought, when food is scarce females and some males become temporary infertile. Once the drought breaks and with kangaroos having a gestation period of only 33 days, it doesn't take very long for the number of joey's to return to it normal population levels.

Characteristics:
Large and powerful build. Red or smoky-blue in colour back with white underbelly. Distinguished by a black and white muzzle patch and a pale stripe between the mouth and ear.
Habitat:
Inland plains and flat, open, grassy woodlands where rainfall provides for adequate grazing.
Behaviour:
Very social and nomadic. Lives in large mobs which usually travel in smaller subgroups. Mobs are generally comprised of one dominant male, several females and their young. Shelters and sleeps under trees during the day, grazes at night.
Breeding:
A single joey. The joey first leaves the mothers pouch at 6 - 7 months of age.
Feeding:
Forages in early morning and night for short grasses and herbs.
Voice:
Usually silent. Males will make hissing and screaming noises during confrontation. Mothers and infants make soft clicking or 'tutting' noises as contact calls.









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