Red Kangaroo

(Macropus rufus)




Facts about this animal

The red kangaroo is the largest living marsupial in the world. The males can stand over 2 m tall and weigh up to 90 kg. Females are less than half the size and weigh 20-40 kg. Red kangaroos continue to grow throughout most of their life.


The dominant fur colour among males is usually pinkish brown to deep rusty red, but sometimes they are bluish or reddish grey. Underside, hindlegs, forearms and tail tip are lighter than the rest of the body, but their toes and paws are dark. Females most often have blue grey fur.


The red kangaroo has very distinctive white patches with back spots and lines on the sides of the nose, and a wide stripe runs from the corner of the mouth up to the base of each ear. The nose tip is weel defined, V-shaped, hairless and blackish-grey with a grainy texture.


Like in other kangaroos and wallabies, the paws of the red have five clawed fingers, with which they can hold food efficiently, and which are used to groom and scratch themselves as well as to excavate food morsels. The back feet have only four toes each with a claw. The first digit is completetly absent, digits 2 and 3 have become fused except for the claws, which are now handy grooming tools. The 4th digit has become enormous and is tipped with a very strong claw which may be used as a weapon. Digit 5 is short and undeveloped.


Female reds, as some other kangaroo species, have the ability to have three young simultaneously, all at different stages of development, one in diapause, one pouch young and an at-foot joey. Mating occurs at any time of the year but only with receptive females. After a gestation period of 33 days an embryonic young weighing about a one gram is born. This ‘jellybean’ will then crawl up from its mother’s cloaca into the pouch where it will attach itself to a vacant nipple and there it will stay for about the next 34 weeks. After pouch emergence the young will continue to suckle from its mother for a further four months.

Did you know?
that when the Europeans first arrived in Australia, the red kangaroo was the biggest mammal on the continent? With the settlers came foreign species that pushed the kangaroo down the list to rank 13 behind introduced camels, buffalos, bantengs, cattle, horses, donkeys, pigs and several species of deer.


Name (Scientific) Macropus rufus
Name (English) Red Kangaroo
Name (French) Kangourou roux
Name (German) Rotes Riesenkänguru
Name (Spanish) Canguro rojo
Local names Female: blue-flyer
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Australia: widely distributed in the dry inland of the central part of the continent
Habitat Grasslands, mallee, saltbush, mulga, open forest, desert
Wild population 8,542,148 (2010) (Department of Sustainability , Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Australian Goverment)
Zoo population 954 reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

Red Kangaroo


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 83 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The red, like other large kangaroos is a very popular species and therefore serves as ambassador of the Australian fauna.


Red kangaroos carrying joeys in their pouches are a typical model for the marsupial type of reproduction, i.e. keeping them has also an educational function.


The red is also a species which can be displayed in "Walk-thru" exhibits, allowing for close encounters between animals and people, although some caution may be exercised when it comes to large males.


Australian zoos also may come into the situation to keep red kangaroos for animal welfare reasons as they may accept and care for sick, injured or orphaned animals.