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red kangaroo

OLogy Series
animal
card
310

red kangaroo

OLogy Series
animal

The red kangaroo is an amazing mammal. With its powerful hind legs and long tail, it can leap up to 45 feet (13.5 m) in a single bound! A newborn kangaroo is pretty amazing, too. Blind, bald, and the size of a lima bean, it crawls into its mother's pouch. Safe inside, it attaches to a nipple and grows for months. Animals that typically carry their extremely immature newborns in their pouch are members of a mammal group called marsupials.

There are more than 300 different living species of marsupials. Which of the following is not a marsupial?

opossums of the Americas

koalas of Australia

giant pandas of Asia

Are you right?

Correct!

Pandas are placental mammals. Opossums and koalas, like kangaroos, are tiny and immature when they're born. They crawl into their mother's pouch, attach to a nipple, and drink milk to fully develop. Of all living marsupials, the red kangaroo is the largest.

Why aren't kangaroos found on any other continent besides Australia?

Australia is the only place they evolved

kangaroos once lived on other continents but became extinct

over millions of years, kangaroos traveled there from other continents

Are you right?

Correct!

Australia has been an island continent for at least 50 million years. Separated from other landmasses, its isolated mammals evolved in unique ways, including the evolution of two-legged (bipedal) hoppers like kangaroos. Unusual mammals are found in South America and Madagascar for the same reason.

Kangaroos have long tendons in their hind legs that act like springs when they hop. What other body parts make them spectacular hoppers?

their tails

their toes

both of these

Are you right?

Correct!

A kangaroo's large and powerful tail provides balance, and long, strong toes on its hindfeet work like a springboard. Built for hopping, a kangaroo can hop for hours at a time. Its lungs use less oxygen than four-legged (quadrupedal) mammals moving at the same speed.

Kangaroos can produce two different kinds of milk at the same time.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

The newborn drinks one type of milk from one nipple. At the same time, the bigger sibling drinks milk with more fat and protein from a different nipple.

Most mammals can move around on two feet.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Very few mammals are bipedal, or able to get around on two legs. Unlike humans, who walk upright on two legs, most bipedal mammals hop.

Scientific Name: Macropus rufus
Habitat: dry habitats of inland Australia
Diet: grasses
Size: males more than 5 feet (1.5 m) tall; females up to 3.5 feet (1 m) tall; up to 198 pounds (90 kg)
Names: doe (female); buck (male); joey (newborn)
Cool Fact: Red kangaroos can hop up to 37 miles (60 km) per hour, using their long tails for balance!

Image credits: courtesy of Rileypie.