Macropus giganteusEastern Grey Kangaroos

Family

  • Macropodidae

Lifespan

  • Wild:  10 years
  • Captivity:  20 years or more

Size

  • Length: 5 to 7 feet tall, not including tail length of 16 to 39 inches
  • Weight: Up to 200 pounds; males are larger than females

Range

  • Eastern and southern Australia

HabitatEastern Grey Kangaroo

  • Open grasslands, woodlands, or forests

Diet

  • Wild: Grasses, leaves, tree bark, and shrubs
  • Zoo: Mazuri Kangaroo diet, apples, carrots, hay and peanuts

Reproduction

  • Sexual maturity is reached at approximately 20 months for males and 17 months for females.
  • Usually, only a single offspring is born after a gestation period of 36 days.

Description

  • Eastern grey kangaroos have short, silver-gray fur, which is darker on their hands, toes, and tail.
  • They have large ears which provide them with excellent hearing.
  • Powerful hind legs, long feet, and a long, muscular tail make these kangaroos excellent jumpers – they can leap a distance of up to 30 feet in a single bound!
    • Their strong tails also provide support and balance, and they can even use their tail for sitting!

Offspring

  • Kangaroo offspring, called a joey, is only an inch long and weighs less than half an ounce at birth.
    • After birth, the joey climbs from the birth canal to the pouch where it lives and nurses for the next 11 months.
    • At this time, it is old enough to leave the pouch, but may continue to nurse from the pouch for up to an additional 6 months.

Social Grouping

  • Eastern grey kangaroos form family groups called "mobs".
    • A mob can have anywhere from 2 to 10 members, but generally consists of one large mature male, two to three females with joeys, and two or three younger males.
    • Males compete for dominance of the social groups, with the strongest male becoming the head of a mob.
      • Males determine dominance by "boxing", a form of male competition, in which males stand upright and kick with their hind legs while balancing on their tails and scratching with their fore-limbs.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Not Listed
  • As with all native Australian wildlife, exportation of kangaroos is controlled by the Australian government.
  • Overall, the Eastern grey kangaroo is not in danger of extinction as there are an estimated 1.5 million in the wild.
  • However, some sub-species are listed as endangered or near threatened.
  • Threats to these animals are habitat destruction and large-scale killing by farmers, as kangaroo’s graze on the same land as sheep.

Legend

When European explorers first saw these strange hopping animals, they asked a native Australian (aborigine) what they were called. He replied, "kangaroo" meaning "I don’t understand your question". The explorers thought this was the animal’s name, and it has remained to this day.

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org

Eastern Grey Kangaroo