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all you ever wanted to know about kangaroos

Behavior
Diet Reproduction
Mating Interaction between Species

Diet
Kangaroos are herbivores. They are grazers that generally feed on grasses, plants, and shrubbery. Due to the fact that kangaroos eat moist vegetation, they only need to drink once a week. This is also because kangaroos need a lot less water than other animals such as livestock. They prefer to eat from dusk until dawn under the cover of darkness to protect them from any danger.

Mating
All of the mating rights are given to the strongest male who is determined by size and strength. This dominant, or leader, male is usually only replaced when he dies; however, he may be beaten out by a rival kangaroo during a fight. When the male is courting the female, he will follow her around, sniffing her to find out if she is ready to mate. Some common mating behaviors include the male stroking the female’s chest, tail, or neck, and the male bobbing his head around and making a clucking sound. When the female is ready, the pair will mate.

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Reproduction
There are no exterior signs to show that a female kangaroo is pregnant. Adult female kangaroos are constantly pregnant. They average two to three young per year. When a kangaroo is born, it is referred to as a joey. A joey can be either male or female. At birth the joey is deaf, blind, and completely naked. It is about the size of a small bean and only weighs about ¾ of a gram. Immediately after birth the joey begins the first major journey in life - the climb to the pouch. The joey must find a way up the mother’s belly and into the pouch using only the sense of smell.

The joey will live in the pouch anywhere from 90 days in the smaller species to 300 days in the larger species. While in the pouch the joey grows very rapidly. By the time the joey is 130 days old, it can open its eyes. The kangaroo can get out of the pouch at about 6 ½ months but still spends a lot of time in the pouch. This allows the joey to explore life out of the pouch but still have the comfort of returning to the pouch. At eight months the joey is kicked out of the pouch for good to make room for a new joey. Adult kangaroos can live to be 30 years old.

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Interaction between Species
Kangaroos are usually found in clusters of 2 to 10 individuals. They live in semi-nomadic groups called mobs. A mob can consist of several hundred kangaroos. This increased sociability allows them to watch out for possible predators. Kangaroos also share common home ranges, although males typically have a larger home range than females do.

One specific type of kangaroo interaction is fighting. Fighting most commonly takes the form of wrestling. The animals support themselves on their hind legs and tail, wrap their arms around one another and try to knock each other over. This fighting is a ritual and has well-established rules. Kicking is done by the ultimate loser, especially when he cannot break free from his opponent.

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Main | Structure | Behavior | Natural History & Ecology |

Questions? Contact Caryn at sissonce@uwec.edu
Page Last Updated on November 7, 2003