Kangaroos and wallabies are only found in Australia** and in W.A., most of the wild kangaroos you will see are western greys. If you venture further into the
outback you will probably come across the odd red kangaroo as well. There is no real difference between kangaroos and wallabies it is just that any species
with adults weighing less than 20kg are known as wallabies.
** Tree kangaroos are also found in New Guinea but the ground dwelling types are only native to Australia.
Sadly most of the kangaroos you will see will be dead by the side of the road. If you want to avoid putting these animals in danger only drive during daylight
hours. If you have to drive at night keep your speed to 80kmh. This will not only save the lives of some roos but will do less damage to your vehicle if you
do collide with one.
Overall kangaroo numbers have actually increased since white settlement, but many wallabies and smaller related species have already been lost or are
In some places kangaroos are regarded as pests and are still shot by licensed hunters for pet meat. Kangaroo meat is also becoming more acceptable for
human consumption and can be found on the menu of some restaurants.
Kangaroo meat was a staple of the early settlers but it fell out of favour and was not used for human consumption for a long time. The meat is less fatty
than beef or lamb but tends to be quite dry in comparison. Like cattle, kangaroos have a chambered stomach and vegetable matter once swallowed can
be regurgitated and re-chewed. Unlike cattle, kangaroos don't produce methane gas as a bi-product of their digestive system they are therefore less
damaging to the ozone layer.
There is a story that when Europeans first asked Aboriginal people what they called the strange hopping animals the reply was 'kangaroo' which means
'I don't know what you are talking about'. Whether this is true we can't say but it is amusing. We have since found further information on this issue as
Phillip Parker King had been in contact with the same tribes that Cook had spoken to when the name was first derived. King found that the local name for
the animal was in fact 'menuah'. King established that other words in the dialect had stayed the same, so it seems quite plausible that the word kangaroo
may have meant, 'I don't understand you' or even 'dead animal'.
Male kangaroos are called boomers (or sometimes bucks), females are flyers (or sometimes called a doe) and a baby kangaroo is a joey.
There are some 47 different species of kangaroo in Australia. They can travel at speeds of up to 40 miles (60 kilometres) an hour and jump obstacles
10 feet (3 metres) high. The grey kangaroo can cover 30 feet in one bound.
Hopping is far more energy efficient than running and roos hop at a constant rate. To increase their speed they simply make longer jumps. The faster
a kangaroo goes the more energy efficient it becomes.
Kangaroos in the wild usually live up to 6 years but if kept in captivity they can live up to 20 years.
Another interesting thing about the kangaroo is its ability to put its reproductive cycle on hold during hard times and to produce two different types of
milk for it's young so one can be suckling inside the pouch and the other (older one) suckling from outside when times are good and there is plenty of food.
Many people believe that the red kangaroo (Macropus Rufus) is the largest of all the kangaroo species but in fact the Eastern Grey kangaroo
(Macropus giganteus) that can weigh in at 95 kilograms, is the heaviest marsupial in the world. At a maximum weight of 70 kilos, the red kangaroo is
next and then the Western Grey kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus) at up to 54 kilos. Red kangaroos are technically the tallest of the large species but its
height does not equal the impact factor of the Eastern grey.
Western Australia's Western grey kangaroo was originally thought to be a sub-species of the Eastern grey but is now classed as a species in its own right.
It is very similar in appearance to the Eastern grey but it does not have the same bulk. The males are often called 'stinkers' due to their strong smell.
There is no particular breeding cycle for the Western grey but most joeys seem to be born during summer (December-March).
Estimates vary but it is believed that the three large species are made up of between 20 and 25 million individuals. Of this only around 3 million are Western greys.
Kangaroos, unlike other 4 legged mammals, cannot walk backwards.