Last Updated on April 9, 2021 by Travels with Kids
Australia is the home of some of the most unusual and fascinating animals in the world. In fact, most of its wildlife is not found anywhere else on the planet! Why is that?
Well, a long, long time ago, the earth looked completely different from what it is today. All the landmass was stuck together, but about 180 million years ago, during the Jurassic Period, when huge dinosaurs walked the land and flying reptiles ruled the skies, the land began to split and chunks started drifting apart and in different directions. One of these drifting chunks of land was Antarctica and Australia still joined together. About 30 million years ago, Australia broke away from Antarctica and journeyed north on its own to where it is today. I bet you didn’t know that Australia is still on the move traveling very slowly at about 7 cm (about 3 inches) every year!
As the landscape began to change, all the plants and creatures also had to adapt to survive the changing climate. Being on an island and left completely on its own, the Australian wildlife evolved in a totally different way to any other species on earth.
And so today, Australia is proud of its hundreds of famously unique creatures, such as koalas, emus, dingos, wallabies, the duckbill platypus, and of course, the most famous of them all – the kangaroo!
This strange-looking animal has raised more interest, especially from kids around the world, than any other living creature. Let us answer some of your questions and share some weird and interesting facts about kangaroos for kids.
Facts About Kangaroos For Kids
How Many Species Of Kangaroos Are There
There are four species of kangaroos, all belonging to the Macropodidae family. Which, in Latin, means “Big Foot”. How appropriate is that? They have massive feet. The biggest is the Red Kangaroo, which can grow to over two metres (6 ft 7 in) tall and weigh around 90 kg (200lb). The Western Grey, Eastern Grey, and Antilopine Kangaroos are much smaller species, and the ones you are likely to see more of in the wild.
What About Tree Kangaroos
There are 14 different species of tree kangaroos. Unlike their big cousins, most of them are tiny, seldom bigger than 60 cm (24 inches), and weigh a maximum of 7 kg (15 lb). Some species grow a little bigger and may reach over 15 kg (32 lb). Their short little legs and strong arms make them excellent tree climbers, where they spend most of their lives munching away on leaves, flowers, and bark.
What Colours Are Kangaroos
Red kangaroos are mostly reddish-brown while the grey kangaroos vary from greyish blue to greyish brown. Red kangaroos have black and white markings on the side of their faces. The grey kangaroos don’t have these markings but they have much larger eyes. They all have soft furry coats. You may also be lucky to spot a rare white kangaroo in the wild.
What Is Unique About Kangaroos
You only have to take one look to realize that these are truly unique creatures, looking like no other. But what makes them even more unique is that they are marsupials, meaning that the females carry their young in a pouch, which is like a pocket in a jacket on their tummies. The red kangaroo is the largest marsupial in the world.
Do Baby Kangaroos Poop In The Pouch
Yep, they also pee in the pouch and bring in loads of dirt every time they climb in and out. Mums can carry up to three babies in their pouch, so, you can imagine, things can get quite messy and stinky in there. So kangaroo mums have to do some housework by regularly cleaning the pouch with their tongues! This is one seriously gross facts about kangaroos for kids. Yuk!
What Is A Baby Kangaroo Called
A baby kangaroo, like all other marsupial babies, is called a Joey. A male kangaroo is called Jack and the female is known as Jill. Wonder where they got that from? Where our mums carried us around in the bellies for nine months, kangaroo mums only carry their Joeys for 30 days before giving birth.
When a Joey is born, it is a tiny pink gooey blob the size of a jelly bean! The moment it pops out, it has to crawl all the way to the safety of the pouch, where it can suckle mum’s milk from teats inside the pouch. It takes about eight months before it is strong enough to leave the pouch, but can continue to suckle from the outside until it is 12 -17 months old.
What Are Australian Nicknames For Kangaroo
Everybody has a nickname in Australia and a kangaroo is often called Skippy, Roo, or Kanga. Are you from Australia? Help us out with this kangaroo fact for kids. What do you call a kangaroo? Let us know in the comments below.
Where Do Kangaroos Live / What Habitats Do Kangaroos Need
Kangaroos live just about everywhere in Australia. Being the sixth largest country in the world, Australia has all the natural habitat and climates that kangaroos need. You will find them hopping around in hot dry deserts, clambering on rocky ledges, feeding in open grasslands, resting and foraging under trees in forests, on the outskirts of towns, wandering around on a beach and they also love to hang out on a golf course.
Kangaroos are mostly nocturnal, which means they prefer to graze during the cool hours of the night and spend the hot sunny days mostly resting under trees or shrubs. They can also go for long periods, even months, without water.
What Do Kangaroos Eat
Kangaroos are herbivores, which means they only eat plants, mainly grass and shrubs. They have similar teeth to us – cutting teeth (incisors) in front and grinding (molars) at the back for grinding and chewing. Unlike other herbivores, like cows and sheep, which have four different stomach compartments to digest their food, kangaroos have only two. No problem for them – they simply puke it out and eat it again! Easy peasy. I bet that is one kangaroo fact kids don’t know!
How Do Kangaroos Get Around
Kangaroos get around by hopping. They have powerful back legs enabling them to move extremely fast to escape any predators, like dingos and wild dogs, and can reach speeds of nearly 50 kph (30 mph). Over short distances, they may reach speeds of 70 kph (43 mph), although their comfortable cruising speed is around 20-25 kph (16 mph).
Their extremely strong and long tails give them stability and balance while on the move and they also use it as a tripod or third leg to sit. Another real weird kangaroo fact is that they are able to walk forwards and sideways, but not backward! Not many people know that. And here’s another really interesting snippet of information on kangaroos for kids that few people know – although kangaroos live in dry arid areas, they are also excellent swimmers!
Kangaroos Can Also Hop Really High And Far
The powerful muscles of their back legs and massive feet allow kangaroos to leap more than 9 metres (26 feet) and easily clear a 2.5 metre (8 ft) fence in one leap. This ability helps them to escape from any predator.
What Is A Kangaroo Mob
Kangaroos are social animals and like to live in groups or mobs of up to about 100. Living in a mob offers them safety with many pairs of eyes and ears to pick up any approaching predator. They have incredible hearing and are able to swivel their ears in all directions to hear the faintest of sounds. When they are threatened, kangaroos will warn all the others in the mob, by stamping their big feet.
Are Kangaroos Dangerous
They say that the art of kickboxing was started in Japan in the 1950s, but they must have surely learned that from the kangaroos of Australia. Although they look placid while grazing in the wild, they can become aggressive and dangerous very quickly. Male kangaroos will fight with other males to win over a female.
They fight dirty by punching and kicking their opponents with their powerful back legs, squaring up to each other like boxers, using their big feet and tails for balance. Their sharp toenails can also cause serious injury. These guys are potent and could knock out Dwayne Johnson with a single blow. Want some advice? Don’t mess with these blokes.
How Long Do Kangaroos Live
Red kangaroos can live up to over 20 years in the wild but only about 16 in captivity. The smaller grey kangaroos live up to 13 years in the wild and up to 20 in captivity.
Where Does The Name Kangaroo Come From
An 18th Century English naturalist named Sir Joseph Banks asked a native for the name of a strange creature he noticed hopping around. The native replied “kangaroo”, which actually means, “I don’t know”! And that’s how the kangaroo got its name. We think this is one of the funniest kids facts about kangaroos that there is.
How Did The Kangaroo Get Its Tail
An old Aboriginal story explains it the best. In the early days, there were two kangaroos who lived here. One small kangaroo with short arms that came from the hills, while the other, a big fellow with long arms, came from the plains. The big kangaroo saw the small fellow pulling handfuls of honey from a hole in a rock and tried to do the same. But it only managed to get piles of spiders, while the small one continued to grab handfuls of honey until it had eaten it all.
The big one became upset and they started to fight, belting each other with sticks. After a while, the big kangaroo turned away and the little bloke threw his stick and it stuck on the big fellas behind. The big one then threw his stick at the little one and it also stuck on his behind. And the sticks have remained there to this day.
Now you know!
Why Is The Kangaroo An Icon Of Australia
Whenever anyone in the world sees a picture of a kangaroo, they immediately think of Australia! It’s no wonder this really unique animal, which is found nowhere else on our planet, has become an icon and the symbol of Australia. It is so loved that it, with another unique creature, the emu, feature on the Australian Coat of Arms as both species are unable to walk backward!
The kangaroo also appears on some of the country’s currency and on the emblem of several other Australian organizations like Qantas Airline, the national air carrier of Australia, and the Royal Australian Air Force. A boxing kangaroo is the national symbol of Australia. The national rugby league team of Australia is also known as The Kangaroos. No, not the Wallabies – they play another type of rugby. Let’s not get started on the different types of rugby they play in Australia because we’ll be here all day. Let’s get back to Skippy.
What Do Australians Think Of Kangaroos
Of course, Australians love them as a national status, but some see them as pests. Especially when they enter the suburbs of small towns or raid crops grown on farms or gardens.
Are Kangaroos Seen On The Australian Streets
You are not likely to see any kangaroos in the center of any large city. However, you will see them on the outskirts of smaller towns that border bushland areas. By the way, Aussies do not ride kangaroos for transport!
Can You Eat Kangaroo Meat
Most certainly. Like all game meat, it is a rich source of protein with very little fat content. In the early days, it was readily eaten by the aboriginal Australians and also by the early European settlers. In the 1940s, kangaroo soup was highly-prized as was “steamer”, a stew made from kangaroo with salt pork. But as living standards rose and more people moved into the cities, kangaroo and other bush meat became less popular. It is still easily available in some supermarkets and restaurants.
What do you think about that? Is this one kids facts about kangaroos you could have done without? Perhaps you’d like to try kangaroo yourself?
If I Am Visiting Australia, Where Can I See Kangaroos
In short, if you are visiting Australia, you are very likely to see kangaroos in the wild outside all the major and smaller cities. They are commonly seen in farmland or bush areas, but they are also common features at wildlife parks. Some of the places we have visited recently were:
Caversham Wildlife Park Perth
Caversham Wildlife Park is a wildlife park located in Perth, Western Australia. It is home to several Australian animals including kangaroos, koalas, possums, and wallabies. For our kids, a walk through the kangaroo enclosure was a real highlight. There is lots of free kangaroo food and you can take as many photos as you like. In fact, our biggest problem was that the kangaroos were well fed and pretty sleepy! A visit to Caversham Wildlife Park Perth with help you learn more facts about kangaroos for kids. For more information, take a look at our review of the Caversham Wildlife Park Perth.
Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas
Another great place to see kangaroos is at Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas, near Cairns. They have an open-air exhibit called the ‘savannah’ where you can get up close and personal with kangaroos and wallabies. However, as far north Queensland is very hot, the animals really feel the heat and spend the middle of the day resting in the shade and off the path, where they aren’t bothered by visitors. If you want to have the most interaction with the kangaroos, it is best to visit in the early morning or in the late afternoon when they will be more active!
Another highlight is the Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas where you are able to see the Lumholtz’s Tree kangaroo. This strange-looking animal also falls into the Macropodidae family, like the kangaroos and wallabies! It is the smallest of all the tree kangaroos, inhabiting the rain forests of Queensland, and is regarded as extremely rare.
Wildlife Sydney Zoo
Yes, that’s right, you can see kangaroos in the middle of Sydney – Darling Harbour to be exact. We’ve visited Wildlife Sydney Zoo on a couple of occasions and it is a great place to see kangaroos on their kangaroo walkabout. In the island enclosure, you can also meet an emu and Western Australia’s very own unique marsupial, the Quokka. To find out more tips about places we visited, take a look at our link: Things to do in Sydney for Kids.
Facts About Kangaroos For Kids – The Verdict
All children love to read and learn about animals, particularly unusual ones such as the kangaroo. Although there is so much more to know about these fascinating creatures, we have tried to cram in as many interesting kangaroo facts for kids as we could.
Australia has so many other strange and unique animals, such as the duckbill platypus and echidnas, which are the only living mammals on earth that lay eggs. Along with its stunning natural scenery, modern cities, and spectacular coastline, Australia could easily be one of the most popular destinations in the world. For all first-time visitors to this country, perhaps along with the Sydney Opera House, it is only when you spot your first kangaroo that you will feel you are truly in Australia.
Come and see for yourself!
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