We usually see these gigantic creatures on TV jumping around and eluding human habitation. But kangaroos are not just hoppers for they are unique kind of creatures. Here are some facts you may not know about kangaroos.
- Kangaroo is a marsupial from the family Macropodidae (macropods or large foot) and is the only animal known to use hopping as a means of locomotion. It can hop at a speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) for nearly 2 kilometers (1.2 mi). There is also a link between hopping and breathing. As a kangaroo jumps, it expels out air from its lungs and brings its feet forward ready for refilling its lungs as soon as it lands.
- Male kangaroos are called as bucks, boomers, jacks, or old men; females are does, flyers, or jills, and the young ones are joeys. A group of kangaroos is called a mob, troop, or court.
- Kangaroos have average lifespan of 6 years in the wild. However, most individuals do not reach maturity in the wild.
- Kangaroos are pure herbivores, feeding on grasses, shrubs, and even fungi.
- One common behavior of kangaroos is nose touching and sniffing. They most usually do this when new members join a group. Sniffing allows them to gain much information from the new member.
- Fighting is also common among kangaroos. They fight for drinking spot or for access to estrous females. During a fight, kangaroos adopt a high standing posture and paw at each other’s head, shoulders, and chests. Exactly like boxing! Moreover, they will also lock forearms and wrestle and push each other. However, kangaroo fights are frequently brief.
- Herbivores normally release large quantities of methane through exhaling and eructation. Well, kangaroos are exception. They have bacteria in their stomach that can convert hydrogen byproduct of fermentation into acetate, which is then used to provide further energy. Scientists are now contemplating on the possibility of transferring these bacteria on cattle to reduce their release of methane, a very harmful greenhouse gas.
- Kangaroos have few natural predators in the wild. Yet, a dog’s bark can freak out a full-grown buck. Kangaroos are also good swimmers, and they often flew to waterways when pursued.
- The young kangaroo, or joey, is born at a very early stage of development when their forelimbs are somewhat developed. With these tiny forelimbs, the newborn climbs to the pouch of the mother and attaches itself to a teat. The joey stays in the pouch for about nine months before starting to explore the world outside the pouch. The mother usually feeds and nurtures it until 18 months old.
- A female kangaroo can diapause – an ability to halt the development of an embryo until the first joey is able to leave the pouch. This normally happens when there is shortage of water or food. Moreover, the mother can produce two different kinds of milk – one for the newborn, and the other for the older joey.
- Kangaroos are shy, and they present no threat to humans.
- The kangaroo is a national symbol of Australia, where it is only found, and its image is seen on some of the country’s currency.
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