Red kangaroo

Scientific Name: Macropus rufus

The world famous red kangaroo is the largest marsupial and the largest Australian mammal, with some males standing at two metres tall, and weighing around 85 kilograms. Males are bigger than females and are very powerfully built. The fur is usually red-brown, though some eastern females can be blue-grey. A white stripe runs along the cheek. Red kangaroos have massive muscles in their rear legs, designed to help them jump. They can reach a height of 1.8 metres and a distance of 9 metres in a single bound. When alarmed they can hop away at speeds of up to 64 kilometres per hour.


The red kangaroo is found across central Australia in all states and territories except Tasmania. It prefers semi-arid plains, grasslands, woodlands and open forests. While some live alone, most are found in groups or ‘mobs’ of about 10 kangaroos. During droughts, this mob can number in the thousands, when the kangaroos congregate at a food source. Most kangaroos have a home range of 8 kilometres but this distance will increase in times of drought.


Grasses, and occasionally shrubs. If it is eating green plants it is able to go without water for long periods of time.


Red kangaroos live up to 23 years and are mature at two years. After mating, the embryo will only start developing if the mother’s pouch is empty of joeys. 33 days later, the newborn – which is tiny, blind and hairless – attaches to one of four teats in the mother’s pouch, and stays there developing for around 8 months. Towards the end of this period it will stick its head out of the pouch in readiness for leaving. Once it has left, it will continue to suckle at foot for 3-4 months.