A male kangaroo is called a boomer
A female kangaroo is called a flyer
A baby kangaroo is called a joey

The word kangaroo derives from the Guugu Yimithirr word gangurru, referring to grey kangaroos.

The name was first recorded as "Kangooroo or Kanguru" on 4 August 1770, by Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook on the banks of the Endeavour River at the site of modern Cooktown, when HM Bark Endeavour was beached for almost seven weeks to repair damage sustained on the Great Barrier Reef.

Guugu Yimithirr is the language of the people of the area.

A common myth about the kangaroo's English name is that "kangaroo" was a Guugu Yimithirr phrase for
"I don't understand you."

According to this legend, Lieutenant Cook and naturalist Sir Joseph Banks
were exploring the area when they happened upon the animal.

They asked a nearby local what the creatures were called. The local responded "Kangaroo", meaning "I don't understand you", which Cook took to be the name of the creature.

The Kangaroo myth was debunked in the 1970s by linguist John B. Haviland in his research with the Guugu Yimithirr people

A Kangaroo is a marsupial mammal.
It is a macropod which means "big foot".

There are over 40 different types (species) of Kangaroo.
The smaller ones are usually called Wallabies.

The largest is the Red Kangaroo.
It stands taller than a man and can weigh 85 kg's.
It is the largest marsupial in the world.



On the Australian coat of arms the Emu and the Kangaroo were selected as symbols of Australia to represent the country progress because they are always moving forward and never move backwards.
Kangaroos are the largest marsupial mammals. They belong to the Macropodidae family.

There are 47 varieties of kangaroo, ranging in size from the two-pound rock wallaby to the 6-foot, 300-pound red kangaroo.

Kangaroos usually have one young annually. The young kangaroo, or joey, is born alive at a very immature stage when it is only about 2 cm long and weighs less than a gram. Immediately after birth it crawls up the mother's body and enters the pouch. The baby attaches its mouth to one of four teats, which then enlarges to hold the young animal in place. After several weeks, the joey becomes more active and gradually spends more and more time outside the pouch, which it leaves completely between 7 and 10 months of age.

Female kangaroos enter into heat within a few days after giving birth they mate and conceive, but after only one week's development does the microscopic embryo enter a dormant state that lasts until the previous young leaves the pouch.

The development of the second embryo then resumes and proceeds to birth after a gestation period of about 30 days.

kangaroo with joey in pouch

The Kangaroo moves by hopping on its powerful hind legs. It uses its thick long tail to balance its body while hopping. A kangaroo can hop at up to 60kmh (40mph). It can also leap over obstacles up to 3m (10ft) high. Because of the unusual shape of its legs and its bulky tail a kangaroo can't walk or move backwards very easily. Kangaroos are found in Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea.

They are grazing animals that eat grass, young shoots and leaves of heath plants and grass trees. Kangaroos need very little water to survive and are capable of going for months without drinking at all.

The kangaroo usually rests in the shade during the day and comes out to eat in the late afternoon and night when its much cooler. It eats mostly grass. It needs very little water to survive. It can survive without drinking for months.


A kangaroo carries its baby in its pouch. The baby is born really tiny and crawls into its mother's pouch. The baby lives in its mother's pouch till its quite large. Even when its quite large it still drinks milk from a teat in its mother's pouch. It sometimes jumps into its mother's pouch head first when frightened.

kangaroo with joey in pouch


The Kangaroo moves by hopping on its hind legs using its tail for steering and balancing while hopping at speed up to 40mph/60kmh. When a kangaroo is moving slowly the tail is used as an extra leg and supports the kangaroo when it is standing on its hind legs. Most kangaroos can only move both back legs together and not one at a time.

A male kangaroo is called a buck. It is also commonly called a "boomer" or an "old man".
A female kangaroo is called a doe, or a flyer.

A baby kangaroo is called a joey. Kangaroos have good eyesight but only respond to moving objects. They have excellent hearing and can swivel their large ears in all directions to pick up sounds. Kangaroos are social animals that live in groups or "mobs" of at least two or three individuals and up to 100 kangaroos.

Kangaroos usually have one young annually. The joey remains in the pouch for nine months and continues to suckle until twelve to seventeen months of age. Kangaroos can have 3 babies at one time. One becoming mature and just out of the pouch, another developing in the pouch and one embryo in pause mode. There are 4 teats in the pouch and each provides different milk for the different stages of development.


Some kangaroo facts and figures

Common name / Scientific name / Height Weight

Eastern Grey Macropus giganteus
3 - 8ft (0.9 - 2.4m) 40 - 200 lbs (18 - 95kg)

Red kangaroo Macropus Rufus
3 - 9ft (0.9 - 2.7m) 40 - 150 lbs (18 - 70kg)

Western Grey Macropus fuliginosus
3 - 7ft (0.9 - 2.1m) 63 - 120lbs (28 - 54kg)

kangaroo hopping


Eastern Grey. Red kangaroo. Western Grey.

Sometimes known as the "Forester" the Eastern grey kangaroo is the heaviest marsupial in the world. Males are larger than females (rarely exceed 45kg).Eastern grey kangaroo lives in small groups but may congregate in large numbers when feeding. It is usually active from late afternoon until early morning, resting in the shade of trees and shrubs during the day.

Strong, muscular legs propel the animal across the grasslands at speeds of 40 mph (60kmh). They are able to cleared lengths of 25 feet (8 meters) and heights of 9 feet (3 meters).Eastern grey kangaroos generally give birth to one infant at a time but twins have been reported. A single young weighing less than 0.35oz (1gr) is born after a pregnancy of 36 days. The joey leaves the pouch for short periods in about nine months of age, but continues to be suckled until it is about 18 months of age.

The Red kangaroo is the largest marsupial in the world. The female is often called the "blue flyer" because of her blue-grey fur. In the eastern part males are usually red (pale red to brick red) and females a bluish grey, elsewhere, both sexes may be reddish/brown. Red kangaroos normally move in groups ("mobs") ranging from a few dozen to several hundred animals.

The Red kangaroo mob usually consists of a dominant male, a number of adult females, and juveniles of both sexes. Red kangaroo females are sexually mature at about eighteen months, males at about two years. Red kangaroo joeys remain in the pouch for 5-6 months. Over a period of 2-3 months they gradually spend more time away from the pouch usually weaned by one year of age, but normally remain close to the mother for another 6 months.


The Western grey kangaroo looks much like the Eastern grey kangaroo, and for many years was treated as subspecies. They vary in color, being anywhere from greyish-brown to chocolate brown.
The muzzle is covered in fine hair.
The western group is slender and greyish-brown in color, and the southern group is stockier and brown in color.

western grey kangaroo


Western grey kangaroo males are known as stinkers due to their strong, curry-like smell.
Western grey kangaroos are very vocal.
The mothers communicate to the joeys with a series of clicks. Western grey kangaroos have no particular breeding season, although most joeys are born in the summer. The Western grey kangaroo is related to the Eastern grey and Red kangaroos.

Kangaroo habitat facts

Eastern grey kangaroo estimate population in 1996 was 10'000'000

kangaroo map

kangaroo family

Eastern grey kangaroos distributed throughout most of the eastern third of the Australian continent, especially along the coast in damp forest and scrub. It has increased in numbers since European settlement due to pasture improvement, and the provision of watering points for stock.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo Facts


Kangaroos belong to an order of mammals called Marsupials. In most marsupials, females have abdominal pouches in which the embryonic young continue their development after birth. Kangaroos are the best known of the marsupials. Their long feet have earned them the name Macropod, which literally means "big-footed." Kangaroos move by hopping. When they are at rest, their body is sometimes positioned like a tripod, using the hind legs and tail. Kangaroos also walk on all "fives."
The front legs and tail support the body while the hind feet move forward.


At about one month, the tiny embryonic kangaroo emerges from its mother's body and slowly climbs up her abdomen and into her pouch. Once inside the pouch, the newborn latches onto a teat(nipple) which swells inside its mouth. Newborn marsupials do not have the ability to suck. Muscular action from the teat squirts milk into the baby's mouth. Newborns are about the size of a Lima bean. A baby kangaroo spends 7-8 months living and growing inside its mother's pouch.
The baby then becomes active outside the pouch, returning only to feed.

When that happens, another baby joey can be born. Then two types of milk can be produced, one for the active joey, and one for the still developing joey inside the pouch. Kangaroos also have a reproductive adaptation called "delayed implantation." The fertilized egg will cease development and wait. Depending on the growth of the joey in the pouch or the weather that season, the fertilized egg will begin development when the mother kangaroo is ready.
Eastern grey kangaroos generally give birth to one infant at a time but twins have been known to occur.


Marsupials are distributed throughout Australia, in some areas of Asia, South and North America. Australia boasts the greatest number and diversity, while the United States is only home to one species, the common or Virginian opossum.
Mexico and Central America have other types of opossums.

Red kangaroo estimate population in 1996 was 10,000,000

kangaroo map

red kangaroo

Red kangaroos are distributed throughout inland Australia and occupy mixed habitats of open shrub lands, grasslands, male scrubs, Mulga country, and desert absent from the wetter areas of eastern, northern and south-western Australia.

Western grey kangaroo estimate population in 1996 was 3,000,000

kangaroo map

western gret kangaroo

Western grey kangaroos inhabit 60% of western and southern Australia. The southern group can be found in South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. They live in woodlands, open forests, coastal heath land, open grassland, scrubland and also can be found on city outskirts and golf courses.

Kangaroo numbers are increasing throughout Australia. They are now found in greater numbers than prior European settlement due to provision of pasture and additional water points. Since the extermination of its natural predator, the Tasmanian wolf, and because of its rapid reproductive abilities this animal has overpopulated.

Kangaroo feeding facts

All kangaroos have a chambered stomach similar to cattle and sheep. They regurgitate the vegetation they have eaten, chew it as cud, and then swallow it again for final digestion. The Red kangaroo grazes during the night on a wide variety of grasses and low herbaceous plants, though sometimes this grazing period starts late evening and ends early morning When water is available it will drink but, if it obtains sufficient green food, it does not need to do so.

Western grey kangaroos feed mostly on grass but will browse upon certain native shrubs. They are strictly herbivorous and use microorganisms in the caecum to break down the cellulose of these plants.
They can survive on plants high in fiber but low in nitrogen, and require very little water.

The kangaroo fights by attacking its opponent with its front paws (which have sharp claws)
or by kicking them with its powerful hind legs.

Meet Kanga with baby Joey in her pouch

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