These animals are popular with visitors to Melbourne Zoo, especially tourists from overseas who have never seen a kangaroo up close.
Red Kangaroos are classed as ‘least concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list). Although the species is not considered to be endangered, individual animals are at risk, particularly from dog attacks, natural disasters and motor vehicles. Although Red Kangaroos are considered common, their numbers can drop in times of drought. During these times they may have to compete with sheep and cattle for food and fall prey to dingoes as rabbit populations decline.
Meeting the Red Kangaroos at Melbourne Zoo is an important way to connect with the animals of Australia, and to learn about the Zoo’s conservation programs, especially those aimed at conserving threatened native species. The money you spend helps to support the Zoo’s conservation programs and helps fight species extinction.
Red Kangaroos are semi-nomadic and can be found across most areas of Central Australia. They show a preference for open plains where shade trees are available, such as Mulga and Mallee Shrub. They feed on grasses and other small plants, mostly at night, but also in the early morning and late evening.
Red Kangaroos breed all year round. Females give birth to a single jelly bean-sized ‘joey’, around 33 days after mating, which will climb up its mother’s belly and into the pouch where it begins to suckle from one of the teats. It remains attached and the milk changes to meet its needs as it grows. At about 6 months old, the joey begins to leave the pouch for short periods, when the mother will usually give birth again. The joeys are permanently out of the pouch at about 8 months of age and normally weaned by around 12 months but can continue to suckle for up to 18 months.
- Red Kangaroos are not always red! Males range in colour from pale red to reddish-brown. Females are usually a bluish grey
- They can jump up to 9 metres in length and 3 metres in height, and can reach speeds of more than 60km per hour
- Females are able to put their pregnancy on hold until conditions are suitable to give birth. This is called ‘embryonic diapause’
- Females can produce two kinds of milk: one from the teat that the newborn selects, and one from the teat used by the older joey