Red Kangaroo

The largest marsupial, the red kangaroo is probably one of the best known of Australia's native animals, living in small groups in the dry central areas.

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(Macropus rufus) Red kangaroo in "mid-flight"
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

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Key Facts

  • Common Name

    Red kangaroo

  • Scientific Name

    Macropus rufus

  • Status

    Least concern

    IUCN

  • Geographic Location

    Australia

Red kangaroos (Macropus rufus) are large animals with extremely long and powerful hind legs and feet.

Their tail is also long and muscular but their front limbs are short.

When moving fast they hop on their hind legs, using their tail as a counterbalance, and when moving slowly they use their tail as an extra limb, taking their weight on their front limbs and tail while hopping their hind feet forwards.

Physical Description
Their fur is soft and reddish brown (greyer in females). They have quite long muzzles and rather large ears, making their heads look a bit like those of deer.

Size
Length: up to 1.4m
Tail length: 1m
Height: 1.5m
Weight: up to 85kg

Social Structure
The Red Kangaroo is mainly active in the cool of the evening or night, and lives alone or in small groups called 'mobs' (although food shortages can cause them to congregate into larger groups).

Membership of these groups is very flexible, and males (boomers) are not territorial, fighting only after females (flyers) which come into heat.

The largest males are dominant, and control most of the matings.
Macropus rufus Red kangaroo Male Australia / ©: Martin HARVEY / WWF-Canon
Red kangaroo (Macropus rufus); Australia
© Martin HARVEY / WWF-Canon

What are the main threats?

The main threats to macropods in Australia are:
  • habitat loss
  • altered fire regimes
  • introduced predators
  • climate change.

These are the main drivers of decline affecting many other mammals in Australia as well, and have resulted in this continent having the worst rate of mammal extinctions worldwide.

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