Red Kangaroo

Macropus rufus

mammal mammal

Red Kangaroo
Image: Lindsey Lumsden
Source: Lindsey Lumsden

Type: mammal

Red Kangaroo Red Kangaroo
Image: Lindsey Lumsden
Source: Lindsey Lumsden

Victorian Conservation Status

Secure Vulnerable Endangered Extinct  ]

Red Kangaroos have become more common since European settlement. This is probably due to decreasing numbers of dingos, which prey upon kangaroos, and greater availability of water in farm dams. Red Kangaroos are considered pests by some farmers because they compete with stock for grass. Extended drought halts Red Kangaroo breeding, which may impact long-term populations in future.

WHAT THEY EAT

herbivore

Red Kangaroos are herbivores.

They graze upon grass and other low plants.

HOW BIG THEY ARE

Red Kangaroo relative size depiction as described below

Size relative to a cat and a woman.

Weight:
22–85 kg
Length:
body 75–140 cm,
tail 65–100 cm
Height:
up to 270cm

Amazing Red Kangaroos

These are the largest of all kangaroos. Like other macropods, Red Kangaroos are pouched marsupials with strong, springy hind legs and muscular tails. They cover large distances by jumping with their back legs, using their tails for balance. Large individuals can cover many metres with a single jump. When walking, they use their front and back legs and tails.

Red Kangaroos live in some of the driest regions of Australia. To cope with this harsh environment they have evolved some amazing breeding strategies. Reproduction ceases during drought but begins within days of rain. While good conditions last, female Red Kangaroos breed all year round and can have three young of different ages simultaneously: a dormant embryo, a tiny newborn pouch young, and an older joey that has left the pouch. They produce two different kinds of milk at the same time.

These animals are mainly nocturnal, and sleep in the shade during the day. They lick their forelimbs to cool their blood by evaporation. At night they graze small plants using their specialised grinding teeth.

Male Red Kangaroos are much larger than females. They fight for access to females for breeding, standing high on their back legs and tails and ‘boxing’. When standing they can be over two metres tall. Males are redder than females, although both sexes can be grey-brown.

Did You Know?

Red Kangaroos

  • are the largest marsupials in the world
  • give birth to young no bigger than a jelly bean
  • are called parra by the Wemba Wemba people of the Swan Hill area

WHERE THEY LIVE

Red Kangaroos prefer open plains with shady trees.

OTHER ANIMALS

Other animals from the Victorian Mallee

MalleefowlRed FoxInland Carpet Python