Aussie ABC – K is for Kangaroo!

Last Updated on April 14, 2016 by Red Nomad OZ

Still life with Lighthouse and Kangaroo, Southern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia
Still life with Lighthouse and Kangaroo, Southern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

The ubiquitous Kangaroo is such an integral part of the landscape downunder that its iconic silhouette universally symbolises Australia.

The QANTAS logo, Plane in the Paddock
The QANTAS logo, Plane in the Paddock

Yet to many of us Aussies they’re so commonplace we no longer marvel at the amazingly intricate biological system within this unique and oddly shaped animal.

AND we roll our eyes at the tourists who gleefully pose for kangaroo souvenir shots.

SO … as is also commonplace downunder, we let the unusual attributes of this wonder of nature pass us by!

Kangaroo Aircraft Logo
Kangaroo Aircraft Logo

How to best describe this highly complex Aussie creature? An animal with a strange, balletic grace when in full flight and at full speed, yet with an awkward, shambling walk. And yes, flight IS the right word to describe how a bounding kangaroo appears to float across the landscape, through the shimmering heat waves and off into the distance far more quickly than appears possible.

That’s why the flying kangaroo symbolises quintessential Australiana. And a study of the facts about this bizarre wild animal shows the truth IS far stranger than fabrication!

So lets stick to the facts! And some photos …

  1. The kangaroo (along with another Aussie native, the emu) is featured on the Australian Coat of Arms …
  2. … reportedly because neither can walk backwards!
  3. AND … Australians are possibly the only nation in the world to eat both animals on its Coat of Arms! Not sure if that’s something to be proud of …

    Big Red Kangaroo, Exmouth, Western Australia
    Big Red, Exmouth, Western Australia
  4. … although Kangaroo meat is very lean, with around 2% fat.

  5. Kangaroo Footprints
    Kangaroo Footprints

    With kangaroo numbers estimated at around 23 million (in 1996), they’re perhaps the only creature to have actually thrived since European settlement, with land clearing, cropping and pasture forming new habitats to which they have readily adapted

  6. And that’s despite an estimated 20,000 annual vehicle collisions with kangaroos!
  7. Hitting a kangaroo can cause LOTS of damage! As I found early one morning heading to work in the predawn mist when a kangaroo leapt out of nowhere in front of my car. Although I wasn’t travelling very fast, the impact killed the kangaroo, permanently dented the bullbar AND destroyed the radiator. Luckily I was less than 1km from home …

    Kangaroos at Halls Gap, Victoria
    Kangaroos at Halls Gap, Victoria
  8. Car manufacturer Holden has a kangaroo crash test dummy – dubbed Robo Roo! This 59 kg composite helps study car collisions with kangaroos to improve safety features. Pity my crash was in a Subaru …
  9. The largest recorded kangaroo was around 3 metres (9′ 7”) tall
  10. The Red Kangaroo is the largest living marsupial at up to 2.7 metres high (9 ft); and the Eastern Grey is the heaviest with males up to 95 kg (~200 lb)
  11. Kangaroos have been clocked at speeds of 40 – 70 kph (24-42 mph) …
  12. … Can cover up to 12 metres (~42 ft) in one leap …
  13. … AND can jump as high as 3.5 metres (10½ feet)!
  14. Kangaroos belong to the Macropodidae family, and are part of Australia’s claim to having the most marsupials in the world – around 150 species.
  15. An adult male kangaroo is colloquially known as a boomer, buck or Old Man;
  16. An adult female is a flying doe, or flier;
  17. A Joey is an immature kangaroo, usually in the pouch.

    Cania Gorge Campground with Kangaroo
    Cania Gorge Campground with Kangaroo
  18. Mob is the collective noun for a group of kangaroos!
  19. And most Aussies refer to them as ‘roos!
  20. An adult female kangaroo is almost continually pregnant and lactating.
  21. ‘An heir and a spare’ is a saying almost custom made for the kangaroo – while still feeding her joey, a second egg can be fertilized – but embryo development is placed ‘on hold’ until the current joey is almost ready to leave the pouch.
  22. The next joey is born when the first leaves the pouch, but the mother continues to feed both simultaneously – with different milk for the older and younger joeys!

    Kangaroo Art, Scenic Public Toilet, Corny Point, South Australia
    Kangaroo Art, Scenic Public Toilet, Corny Point, South Australia
  23. Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was one of Australia’s most successful TV show exports although it was banned in Sweden because it was considered the show would make children believe in the animals’ unnatural powers!

  24. The clicking sound Skippy makes is based on an actual sound made by kangaroos to communicate with each other.
  25. Although the grunts and groans of copulating kangaroos can sound almost human … as Pilchard and I found one day on a walk through the scrub. Pilchard bravely went into the bush to investigate the odd grunting sound we heard on the off chance someone was hurt. Wrong! We left them to it … don’t want to mess with – or interrupt – a big boomer!!
  26. Especially as successful copulation can last up to 50 minutes!
  27. Kangaroos are found almost everywhere except above the snow line.
  28. The strangest place we ever saw them was on a beach near Western Australia’s Exmouth, where they were digging holes in the sand and resting therein.

    Kangas on the Beach, Exmouth, Western Australia
    Kangas on the Beach, Exmouth, Western Australia
  29. It’s illegal to have a dead kangaroo in your possession without a permit.  NO WAY!!
  30. The Big Kangaroo is off the beaten track at Border Village, on the SA/WA border!
  31. Boxing with kangaroos was – and still is – a popular sport at country fairs, although there are moves afoot to have it banned.

    Halls Gap Caravan Park, Grampians, Victoria
    Halls Gap Caravan Park, Grampians, Victoria
  32. ‘Kangaroo’ is derived from ‘gangurru’, an indigenous word from the Guugu Yimithirr language of Far North Queensland
  33. A ‘kangaroo court’ describes a mock court where no consideration is given to legal principles.
  34. ‘A few ‘roos loose in the top paddock’ is a colloquial Aussie term for someone who’s a little bit mad!
  35. Although we once had one in our garden for awhile, the most kangaroos I’ve EVER seen in one place was in Halls Gap, Grampians, Victoria!

Yes, there IS a kangaroo smack bang in the middle of this White Cliffs, NSW landscape!!
Yes, there IS a kangaroo smack bang in the middle of this White Cliffs, NSW landscape!!
SO … how many of these 35 facts about the Kangaroo did you REALLY know??

Have you missed any of the Aussie Alphabet Series? Catch up HERE!

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  1. These are fun facts about kangaroos. They are like the national pride of Australia. I am most surprised that kangaroo meat is available in Australia. The photo of them at the beach look funny. I did not think that they would be interested in digging holes. Haha! I would love to visit Australia someday and look for some kangaroos.

    1. People are often surprised that we eat our coat of arms, Iza – but I don’t think we’ll EVER run out of kangaroos! Hope you see them down here someday – they’re awesome to watch!!

  2. Wow thats a great post. Thanks for the lot of in formations. Must be very fascinating to see the kangaroos in nature. I only know them from the zoo.

  3. @Go Camping – Thanx for playing! The more links, the better!!
    @diane b – HAhaha, I bet that’s what everyone’s secretly thinking … please add a link if you have one!

  4. 50 minutes!!!!!! I want to be a kangaroo. yep Halls Gap is the place to see them in droves. I guess its a bit late to add a link.

  5. I knew a couple, which isn’t, I think, too bad for an essentially untraveled old lady. I’d love to be there in person, but meantime love the virtual tour.

    Hitting a ‘roo there must be a little like running into a deer where we stay when we’re in Oregon — many people we know have had that “lovely” experience.

  6. Great facts. We also ran over a huge kangaroo, who jumped on the road just around a curve, in a country road in WA. The car was very, very damaged, we were 3km from the nearest town and took us about 1h to do it! Then the car had to be towed to Perth the next day and we had to fly home and cut our holiday short! Now I´m petrified of them on country roads.

  7. @Are We There Yet! – It’d probably be an environmental disaster if they escaped from the zoos and took over the countryside! Then you’d have deer AND roos!
    @lorik – I’ve never eaten one either … the White Cliffs pic was just a landscape shot – until I spotted the roo!! Serendipity!!
    @Chris – Thanx! Look forward to seeing you again!! Will pop over shortly …
    @Fun60 – You should see the facts I DIDN’T put in!! Hope the anon thing works … it won’t stop it altogether.
    @Dianne – I rest my case. Us Aussies don’t take pix because they’re TOO common!
    @Iris – You’re one up on me – never been to Bowling Green Bay NP – YET! Sadly, they’re all too common by the roadside …
    @Sami – AAAARRRRGGGHHH! This is why we never travel on country roads after dusk if possible – although I know it can happen any time!
    @Sallie – Good girl!! But you win – deer are WAAAAAY bigger! Although Halls Gap, scene of 2 of my pix, also has deer!!!
    @Jill – Too true. Both to watch and to eat!!! Have a great week!!

  8. They can´t walk backwards? Didn´t know that!
    Great facts, thanks for sharing!
    Saw heaps in Bowling Green Bay NP – their claws are quite big even the Wallabie´s… One wanted to “touch” me to give some bread (Ingo gave water in a cup instead) – quite impressive to see them this near!
    Most I saw beside the roadside, though. As cows in various states, all hit by Roadtrains…

  9. Loved the post. Who would believe you could come up with so many facts about a kangaroo. I want to know where they all were when I visited Aus in Oct (although I did see a couple in Alice Springs). I was expecting to see them lurking on every corner! Thanks for your advice – have changed my settings so will see whether that makes a difference.

  10. Would you believe Red I don’t have a capture of a kangaroo! that’s amazing considering I lived in rural South Australia for most of my life.
    No I didn’t know all those facts!!

  11. I’m ashamed to say, almost none (though I’m not surprised they have very lean meat, ha). Absolutely fabulous shots and facts! I admit, I’d probably be one of those tourists ooh-ing and ah-ing!

  12. I knew very little if anything at all. This was a very fun post. I’d love to see them in the wild. They are similar to our deer in some states where the population numbers are in the millions. Cars hit so many of them. Glad you were okay….I can only imagine what that must have been like. I can’t imagine eating our Bald Eagle. I think that would taste nasty:)

  13. @IDP – What’s a wallaby but just a small kangaroo anyway?!?!
    PDP – The more I read, the more fascinating they became!! Look forward to your links!
    @Rohrerbot – You can’t help but see them in the wild pretty much anywhere, dead or alive!!
    @Robert Geiss – Thank you!! Glad you enjoyed the post!!
    @LONDONLULU – Anyone from overseas has an excuse not to know the facts. But even us Aussies don’t know a lot!!!
    @Manzanita – They are VERY likely in zoos!! And I guess kangaroos are as fascinating to you as dancing is to me – because I never do it!
    @SFlaGuy – I have NEVER eaten it!!!! But I could have ordered it pretty much anywhere – it’s an almost standard menu item down here!

  14. @Exmouth Tour – I bet it’s pretty hot there now though!
    @George – I didn’t know some of them before either! And it made me realise I didn’t often take kangaroo photos …
    @darlin – Being Canadian is a fine excuse for not knowing much about the kangaroo!!! I’ve never eaten the meat either …

  15. Now that’s some pretty big Jack Rabbits Y’all have down under. About the only fact I knew first hand is that Kangaroo is delicious. Not exactly tender but very tasty. I’ve only seen it severed once here in the States. How often have you had Roo Red?

  16. I remember my kids loved Kanga and Baby Roo. I don’t recall ever seeing a live one. Are they in zoos? Perhaps I did then.
    It sounds like they can wreck havoc to a car like the deer do here. The town I live in now is Helena and over-run with deer. 7 of them have found a permanent home in my rock garden area. I like to watch the little critters but they strip the bark from trees and 5 of mine have bit the dust.
    Kangaroos are fascinating to me because I never see them.
    Hope you are well.

  17. Thank you for these interesting images and the thoughtful commentary. Learned a lot.
    Please have a good new week ahead.

  18. Red this is a very interesting post, I’ll admit that the only 2 I knew is 18 and 19… got a valid excuse though being Canadian and all! lol

    While I was visiting your amazing country I just couldn’t bring myself to even taste the meat of the roo, it was purely a psychological thing with me but after petting one there was no way I was going to eat one of them!

    I did take some photos , these naturally are tame as I was petting them, but they were so adorable, as was the koala.


  19. No. 26 ..really!! Oh come on someone had to say it haha! The most fascinating thing I think is the journey of the teeny tiny newborn up into the pouch, amazing stuff. I do have many pics of kangas, will try the link up tomorrow.

  20. @SaucyKod – It’s a little embarrassing to admit how much I learned myself while researching this post!! Glad you liked it!!!
    @TMWH – Hey, maybe you’re on to something there … So what did you say when Zane asked what ‘copulating’ meant?!?!?!
    @Kath – Dry, hot and red. Sounds good, huh?!?!?!
    @Andrew – I recall that expression and vowed it would NEVER apply to me!! And it hasn’t … I’ve linked your post to the linky! Thanx – haven’t read that far back in your blog!
    @Johanna – They’re always around EVERYWHERE – that’s why us Aussies don’t see how cool and amazing they are!

  21. @Carole – There were quite a few of the facts I didn’t know myself!
    @Jim – Thanx!
    @eileeninmd – Don’t worry, there are still plenty of Aussies getting their photo taken with a kangaroo! But look out – those hind legs can be deadly!!
    @River – Drought can also trigger the embryo ‘hold’ – and fancy nearly being ravished by a kangaroo!!! That’s an experience I’m betting not many have had!!!
    @FruitCake – I won’t list the facts I didn’t already know … kinda embarrassing, huh?!?! I’ve added your post to my link up!!!

  22. Are you going to put the Oz Alphabet into a book when you are done? That would be great. Zane just came home asking about kangaroos, so I showed him your post and read it to him. He was very impressed–now he wants one!

  23. Red, this was great. I knew very little about “Roos”, till I read your post. It was most interesting, a really great read and another exceptional post with exceptional photos. Thanks a bunch 🙂

  24. That’s a lot of facts! I didn’t know about 20,21, and 22, although I did know that a developing embryo could be put “on hold”, I thought that was in times of drought or flood when the mother or baby would be at risk. We had a baby kangaroo as a pet for a few months when I was about 12. I don’t remember where he came from, I remember that as he grew older he became rather feisty around us girls at certain times of the month, so Dad took him to someone who had a wildlife park.

  25. Great post. I would LOVE to see your kangaroos “in the wild”. LOl, I would be one of those tourist trying to get my photos. Have a great weekend!

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