rufus [ma crO' puhs roo' fus]
The red kangaroo is the largest living
marsupial, and the largest mammal native to
Australia. An adult male may stand 4 to 5 feet
tall and weigh up to 200 pounds, but adult
females rarely reach more than 3-1/2 feet in
height. Like all other kangaroos, the red
kangaroo has a large, well-muscled tail up to 4
feet long, and powerful hindquarters. The second
and third toes of each hind foot are fused and
shaped into a grooming claw that is quite sharp
and can be a very effective self-defense weapon.
The forelimbs end in clawed paws that are used
with great dexterity in eating, grooming, and
The red kangaroo's name comes from the reddish
brown color of the male's back and flanks; the
coat color of females is usually more bluish
Red kangaroos inhabit the dry,
inland, central part of Australia, and can be
found in scrubland, shrubland, grassland, and
desert habitats. Although they prefer to forage
in open plains areas with neither trees nor
bushes, they are seldom found too far from some
kind of shade or shelter.
Like all other kangaroos, the
red is a strict herbivore. Its preferred diet is
a mixture of grasses and flowering plants, but it
will also eat leaves, wood, bark, and stems if
the preferred foods are scarce. Because their
preferred foods tend to be rich in moisture, red
kangaroos can go for months without taking a
drink of water.
Red kangaroos will breed at any
time of the year. Males compete for mating
opportunities with several females, with each
male trying to monopolize access to one group of
females and driving away all other males. No
permanent pair bonds are ever formed, however.
As with all other marsupials,
the baby kangaroo -- which is barely 3/4 inches
long and 1/25 ounce in weight -- is born nearly
helpless and must crawl from the birth canal into
the mother's pouch, where it will then remain and
finish its development for about 70 days. The joey
is weaned at about 1 year of age, but will
usually stay near its mother until it is 1-1/2 to
2 years old.
In favorable conditions, a
female red kangaroo will typically give birth to
three young every two years.
Females reach sexual maturity
at 15 to 20 months of age, males at 20 to 24
months. Red kangaroos live up to 22 years in the
Other Behaviors and
Red kangaroos typically live in
mobs of about 10 individuals, with the
majority being females with their offspring.
Females always stay with their natal mob, while
males typically move from mob to mob.
A red kangaroo can travel at 40
miles per hour over short distances, can leap 27
feet in a single bound, and can clear a
10-foot-high fence with ease.
Genus and Species Macropus rufus
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Macropus_rufus/
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