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5 Interesting Facts About Kangaroos

Wildlife Photography with marysejansenart

And a Photo Shoot in the Late Afternoon Sun

Interesting Facts About Kangaroos: Eastern Grey Kangaroo Portrait by Maryse Jansen
Eastern Grey Kangaroo Portrait

The winter sun is slowly going down and quickly losing strength. The ‘Golden Hour’ is approaching! I’ve been enjoying a beautiful walk through a coastal forest, dominated by Paperbark Trees, Lomandras and lots of wildflowers. I spot some fresh kangaroo droppings as well as kangaroo paw prints. Plenty of signs that this is kangaroo country. And this is just the right time of the day to expect them coming out of the woods and start grazing on their evening meal.

As I round the next bend I see two ears pricking up in the high grass in the distance! I peer through my zoom lens and notice a family of three: mum, dad and joey Eastern Grey Kangaroo! I take a wide berth as not to scare them away and move slowly around to get a better view. As soon as they notice me, they sit straight up, ears pricked and stare at me. I stand still to show them I’m no threat and after a while they continue grazing.

Curious Young Eastern Grey Kangaroo by Maryse Jansen
Curious Young Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Once in a better position I spot a few more kangaroos! I am able to take some beautiful photos, where the golden rays of the late afternoon sun lighten up the outlines of their fur. It is a beautiful effect that makes them stand out against their background. It also gives the grasses a soft golden colour. And make sure to take special notice of their amazing long eyelashes!

Do you ever wonder why kangaroos prefer to graze during this time of the day? Or how many kangaroos live together in a mob? Read on below for 5 interesting facts about kangaroos.

FACT #1 Kangaroos keep cool during the day and feed at night

Kangaroos are actually nocturnal. Even though you may see them active during the day, they are most active at night. During the day, they tend to hide out in the shade, which is the best place to survive the hot Australian sun. When its really hot, they scrape the top layer of the earth and lay their arms on that cooler layer just below the surface. Their arms feature a lot of small blood vessels, just under the skin, so when they hold that part of their body against a cooler surface they can cool down quickly. They also tend to lick this area on their arms to help keep their bodies cool.

As the sun begins to set, they come out to feed. They do that throughout the night, until dawn breaks and then they slowly disappear into the forest again.

The kangaroos are herbivores and feed mainly on grasses, but they will also takes herbs and leaves from low-growing vegetation. Young, green shoots of grass are preferred as they are easier to digest and contain more protein.

Interestingly, despite having the same grassy diet, they are not as gassy as cattle! Kangaroos emit less than a third of the amount of methane gas then cattle does!

FACT #2 Kangaroos live in a mob led by a dominant male

Kangaroos live in groups, called mobs. These groups consist of a dominant male, a number of other males and a number of females and their young. A male is called a Boomer, Buck or Jack, a female is called a Flyer, Jill or Doe and a young kangaroo is called a Joey.

The dominant male is generally the only male that gets to mate with the females in the group. When challenged, he will fight his contestants. Boxing, kicking and sometimes biting are part of his fighting strategies. He will balance on his tail while kicking out with his strong hind legs. He will also wrestle his opponent by using his forearms and sharp claws. The kangaroos throw their head back during the fight to protect their eyes.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo Duo by Maryse Jansen
Eastern Grey Kangaroo Duo

FACT #3 How kangaroos communicate

Kangaroos are generally very silent animals. But they can use sound to communicate, usually in the form of friendly clucking sounds. When alarmed they produce a guttural cough. This can also be a sign of aggression, so watch out if this is directed at you! Stomping on the ground may be added as well to communicate danger or a warning.

The kangaroos have well developed senses of sight, smell and hearing to help them detect danger. Their large ears stand upright and can move around to locate the direction of which the sound they hear is coming from without the need to move their head!

FACT #4 Kangaroos are the largest marsupials

Kangaroos are the largest living marsupials. Eastern Grey Kangaroos (the ones in the photos) can be up to 1.4m in standing height. When we include their tail, their total body length can be up to 2.4m! Males are considerably bigger then females, who can reach a total body length of up to 1.8m. They really are impressive, not only so tall they look you straight in the eye, but also having a very solid muscular body that a human body is no match for! A large male can weigh up to 90kg!

There are two other species of Kangaroos: the Western Grey Kangaroos are slightly smaller then the Eastern Grey Kangaroos and the Big Red Kangaroos are even a bit bigger!

FACT #5 How kangaroos get around

When grazing, kangaroos use their hind legs in combination with their tail to move around. The tail works as a third limb: when leaning on its tail the kangaroo brings its hind feet forward. Only when they want to cover more distance or need a bit of speed to get out of danger, they begin their characteristic hopping. From that moment they start using their tail only for balance.

Their large feet and very muscular hind legs enable them to spring forward in great leaps. When coming from a stand still position, they can perform a leap close to 2m, but once they are up to speed they build more and more momentum and can cover distances of up to 9m per leap! Isn’t that amazing? Doing this at a speed of up to 64kmh would be a thrilling experience. It would certainly help them outrun a Dingo attack!

And did you know that kangaroos are also able to swim? They are excellent swimmers and use a kind of doggy paddle technique. Their huge feet enable them to push the water away powerfully, their forearms help them keep balance and they keep their head above the water. They use swimming to cross rivers but mainly their going into the water is a way to escape predators.

More interesting facts about kangaroos

For more interesting information about kangaroos, including the amazing ‘Wonders of their Breeding Cycle‘, check out my post ‘The Eastern Grey Kangaroo – an Australian Icon’

And be sure to watch the video below, as the latest episode of ‘Come for a walk in the Australian Bush’ shows some footage of the encounter with the Eastern Grey Kangaroo family I described above.

If you are interested in purchasing ‘Eastern Grey Kangaroo Portrait’ or would like to see what it looks like on the various products, please head to my shop. Check out the other kangaroo images from this post and more in this series in my Australian Mammals Gallery.

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