By Steve Challis 2010
The Red Kangaroo, Macropus rufus, is generally referred to as the biggest Kangaroo still in existence. There were bigger ones in the past including the Giant Short Faced Kangaroo, Procoptodon goliah,which may have been ten feet tall.
The male Red Kangaroo can reach a little over six feet tall. Certainly, based on the average maximum size, the Red Kangaroo is the biggest, although the Grey Kangaroo sometimes produces individuals which are completely outside its normal range, reaching eight feet tall.
The Females are smaller than the males, as well as being less red and tending towards blue in color.
The Red Kangaroo is not a threatened species. Unlike many Australian animals, the Red and Grey Kangaroos have benefited enormously from the European Settlement of Australia. Kangaroos need water to drink. As the Australian Graziers spread out into the drier areas of the Australian desert and Semi desert, they provided water troughs for their sheep, cattle and other stock. The kangaroos drink at these as well. It has been estimated that there are hundreds of times as many Kangaroos in Australia now as there were before 1788 when the first European settlers came.
The Red Kangaroo is both a browser, eating the leaves etc. of shrubs and trees, and a grazer, eating grasses and other low growing plants.
Kangaroos are famous for their jumping and a Red Kangaroo jump can approach thirty feet in length and ten feet in height. The Red Kangaroo can move at over sixty kilometres an hour.
Kangaroos have an elastic mechanism in their hind legs that enables them to use some of the energy of the previous leap for their next one.
The Red Kangaroo has few enemies native to Australia, but there are several introduced ones. One such predator is the Dingo which was introduced several thousand years ago. In the last two centuries, other types of Dog have also been brought to Australia. The Kangaroo is not defenceless against these predators. Apart from trying to get away, the Kangaroo can try to grab the Dog in its front paws and rip out its belly with its powerful hind legs. Kangaroos are good swimmers, and another strategy the Kangaroo will occasionally use is to go into water, and try to drown the dog.
Kangaroo males will sometimes fight each other. Normally a wild Kangaroo is not dangerous to humans, but special circumstances can arise.
For two true accounts of serious danger to Humans from Kangaroos, see: [http://stevechallis.net/Modest-Hero.php] and [http://stevechallis.net/Unlikely-Hero.php].
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