Next stop, Down Under! Join us as we learn all about one of Australia's most amazing animals with our cool kangaroo facts...
Scientific name: Macropus
IUCN status: Least concern
Lifespan (in wild): Up to 23 years
Weight: Around 90kg
Body size: Over 2m in height
Top speed: 56km/h
Diet: Herbivore - mainly grasses
Habitat: Australian desserts and grasslands
Kangaroos belong to the animal family Macropodidae, which literally means "big foot." Thanks to their large feet and powerful hind legs, kangaroos can travel more than 56km/h and leap more than 9m in a single bound - that’s more than six ten-year-olds lying head to toe! They have small front legs and a long, strong tail which helps them balance while jumping. The tallest of all our planet’s marsupials, these amazing animals can stand over two meters tall.
Kangaroos are found in Eastern Australia, where they live in small groups called troops or herds (or "mobs" by Australians), typically made up of 50 or more animals. If threatened, kangaroos pound the ground with their strong feet to alert and warn the others in the group. And these cool creatures aren't to be messed with - when they fight, they punch and kick with powerful blows, and will sometimes even bite. Males will often fight each other over access to females.
Female kangaroos sport a pouch on their belly (made by a fold in the skin) to cradle baby kangaroos, called joeys. Newborn joeys are tiny, measuring just 2.5 centimetres, or about the size of a grape - cute! After birth, joeys travel unassisted through their mother’s thick fur to the comfort and safety of the pouch. A newborn can’t suckle or swallow, so the kangaroo mum uses her muscles to pump milk down its throat. At around 4 months, the youngster emerges from the pouch for short trips, and at ten months, it's mature enough to leave the pouch for good.
Kangaroos are herbivores and like to chew on grasses, herbs and shrubs. Besides humans and wild dogs called dingoes, kangaroos face few natural predators. But that’s not to say that these guys have it easy. Heat, drought and hunger due to vanishing habitat are amongst the dangers these amazing marsupials face.