Due to the fires burning in Australia, I’ve been thinking about animals indigenous to that island. So I did a little research about kangaroos.

Before I give you any of that information, I want you to think about something. We’ve all seen kangaroos in person or on television. And in history, the indigenous peoples of Australia hunted kangaroos for their meat, fur, and skins. But what would the first first Europeans have thought of these odd (to them) animals?

Photo by Holger Link on Unsplash

Just imagine. Kangaroos have a head like a deer, but they stand upright. They jump and hop more than they walk. They have that huge tail. And that second head that looked to be sticking out of the belly? The stories they told when they returned home probably sounded like mermaid stories. Not really believable.

A portrait of the Kongouro (Kangaroo) from New Holland by George Stubbs, 1772, via Wikimedia Commons.

So here are some interesting things to know about kangaroos.

  • They are herbivores.
  • The are good swimmers and if threatened may head to the water. And if pursued, they may hold their pursuer under water to drown them.
  • Gestation is short, about 30-36 days. Babies are hairless and only about the size of a lima bean at birth.
  • Their lifespan is only about 6 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.
  • They can be over 6 feet tall and weigh up to 200 pounds.
  • Kangaroo meat is a good source of low-fat protein.
  • They have a thing called embryonic diapause, which means (in the simplest possible terms) they can have an embryo which is dormant and not implanted into the uterus until they are ready for another pregnancy. I’ve never heard about this and have to admit that I am a little weirded out by the whole idea.
  • They can run about 40 miles per hour over short distances.

If you are interested in donating to help the human victims, firefighters, or wildlife victims of the fires in Australia, there are plenty of options available. This one, WIRES, was recommended to me for wildlife such as kangaroos.

Photo by Carles Rabada on Unsplash