21 October 2016 - KANGAROOS


G'day folks,

Welcome to some interesting facts about kangaroos.

A male kangaroo is called a boomer
A female kangaroo is called a flyer
A baby kangaroo is called a joey
The word kangaroo derives from the Guugu Yimithirr word gangurru, referring to grey kangaroos. The name was first recorded as "Kangooroo or Kanguru" on 4 August 1770, by Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook on the banks of the Endeavour River at the site of modern Cooktown, when HM Bark Endeavour was beached for almost seven weeks to repair damage sustained on the Great Barrier Reef.

Guugu Yimithirr is the language of the people of the area.

A common myth about the kangaroo's English name is that "kangaroo" was a Guugu Yimithirr phrase for "I don't understand you." According to this legend, Lieutenant Cook and naturalist Sir Joseph Banks were exploring the area when they happened upon the animal. They asked a nearby local what the creatures were called. The local responded "Kangaroo", meaning "I don't understand you", which Cook took to be the name of the creature.

The Kangaroo myth was debunked in the 1970s by linguist John B. Haviland in his research with the Guugu Yimithirr people.

On the Australian coat of arms the Emu and the Kangaroo were selected as symbols of Australia to represent the country’s progress because they are always moving forward and never move backwards.

Kangaroos are the largest marsupial mammals. They belong to the Macropodidae family.

There are 47 varieties of kangaroo, ranging in size from the two-pound rock wallaby to the 6-foot, 300-pound red kangaroo.

Kangaroos usually have one young annually. The young kangaroo, or joey, is born alive at a very immature stage when it is only about 2 cm long and weighs less than a gram. Immediately after birth it crawls up the mother's body and enters the pouch. The baby attaches its mouth to one of four teats, which then enlarges to hold the young animal in place. After several weeks, the joey becomes more active and gradually spends more and more time outside the pouch, which it leaves completely between 7 and 10 months of age.

The Kangaroo moves by hopping on its powerful hind legs. It uses its thick long tail to balance its body while hopping. A kangaroo can hop at up to 60kmh (40mph). It can also leap over obstacles up to 3m (10ft) high. Because of the unusual shape of its legs and its bulky tail a kangaroo can't walk or move backwards very easily. Kangaroos are found in Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea.

They are grazing animals that eat grass, young shoots and leaves of heath plants and grass trees. Kangaroos need very little water to survive and are capable of going for months without drinking at all.


The kangaroo usually rests in the shade during the day and comes out to eat in the late afternoon and night when it’s much cooler. It eats mostly grass. It needs very little water to survive. It can survive without drinking for months.

The Kangaroo moves by hopping on its hind legs using its tail for steering and balancing while hopping at speed up to 40mph/60kmh. When a kangaroo is moving slowly the tail is used as an extra leg and supports the kangaroo when it is standing on its hind legs. Most kangaroos can only move both back legs together and not one at a time.

A male kangaroo is called a buck. It is also commonly called a "boomer" or an "old man". A female kangaroo is called a doe, or a flyer.

A baby kangaroo is called a joey. Kangaroos have good eyesight but only respond to moving objects. They have excellent hearing and can swivel their large ears in all directions to pick up sounds. Kangaroos are social animals that live in groups or "mobs" of at least two or three individuals and up to 100 kangaroos.

Kangaroos usually have one young annually. The joey remains in the pouch for nine months and continues to suckle until twelve to seventeen months of age. Kangaroos can have 3 babies at one time. One becoming mature and just out of the pouch, another developing in the pouch and one embryo in pause mode. There are 4 teats in the pouch and each provides different milk for the different stages of development.


Kangaroos belong to an order of mammals called Marsupials. In most marsupials, females have abdominal pouches in which the embryonic young continue their development after birth. Kangaroos are the best known of the marsupials. Their long feet have earned them the name Macropod, which literally means "big-footed." Kangaroos move by hopping. When they are at rest, their body is sometimes positioned like a tripod, using the hind legs and tail. Kangaroos also walk on all "fives." 

The front legs and tail support the body while the hind feet move forward.



At about one month, the tiny embryonic kangaroo emerges from its mother's body and slowly climbs up her abdomen and into her pouch. Once inside the pouch, the newborn latches onto a teat (nipple) which swells inside its mouth. Newborn marsupials do not have the ability to suck. Muscular action from the teat squirts milk into the baby's mouth. Newborns are about the size of a Lima bean. A baby kangaroo spends 7-8 months living and growing inside its mother's pouch. The baby then becomes active outside the pouch, returning only to feed.

When that happens, another baby joey can be born. Then two types of milk can be produced, one for the active joey, and one for the still developing joey inside the pouch. Kangaroos also have a reproductive adaptation called "delayed implantation." The fertilized egg will cease development and wait. Depending on the growth of the joey in the pouch or the weather that season, the fertilized egg will begin development when the mother kangaroo is ready.

Eastern grey kangaroos generally give birth to one infant at a time but twins have been known to occur.

Clancy's comment: Marvellous nature, eh? If you get the chance to watch a video on the birth of a kangaroo, do it. It's quite gob smacking.

I'm ....

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