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Red Kangaroo

Macropus rufus

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About the Red Kangaroo

conservation status: least concern

Geographic Range:

range map

Class: Mammalia
Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Macropodidae  
Genus: Macropus  
Species: rufus

The red kangaroo is the largest of all marsupials, with powerful legs that can propel it up to speeds of 40 miles per hour and enable 25-foot-long jumps. The male is typically a reddish color while the female is bluish-gray and further distinguished by her forward facing pouch. Kangaroos congregate in groups known as mobs, which average about 10 individuals. They're most active at dawn and dusk, resting in the shade during the heat of the day. If it gets too hot, kangaroos will drool and lick saliva on their faces and bodies to cool off.

Committed to Conservation

Zoo New England participates in the red kangaroo Species Survival Plan. By sharing research and knowledge, participating institutions work together to establish guidelines that best ensure the health of captive populations, and with success, the survival of endangered species. 

Red Kangaroo Facts

Red kangaroo are marsupials that can stand on two legs or four. Males are reddish in color, and females are blue grey. They have strong hind legs; the second and third toes are fused and shaped into a grooming claw. They have large erect ears and a long narrow face. A long powerful tail helps counterbalance their weight. Females have forward facing pouches.

Length: Males are 7 to 9 feet long; females are 5 to 6 feet long
Height: Up to 6 feet tall
Weight: Up to 200 pounds

They graze mostly on grass and flowering plants. Consuming moisture-filled succulent plants allows them to go without water for long periods of time.

The breeding season starts at the beginning of the monsoon season from November to March. When born, young are not fully formed. They climb into their mother's pouch and continue to develop for 33 weeks, after which the mother will force them out of the pouch. Females are sexually mature at 15 to 20 months. Males are sexually mature at 20 to 24 months.

Red kangaroos graze together in groups of up to 10 individuals, though mobs may congregate together in areas with abundant food. A mob consists of several females and their young and a dominant male. They're most active at dawn and dusk and spend most of the heat of the day resting in the shade. Their dexterous front paws can be used for eating, grooming and self-defense. Their hind legs are powerful and can propel them at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour for short bursts. They can also cover over 25 feet in a single hop and jump up to 6 feet high.

Red kangaroos have habitats ranging throughout the dry inland regions of Australia. They prefer open plains with few trees or bushes.

Median Life Expectancy:
15 years