What Are the Characteristics of a Kangaroo?

Kangaroos are mammals of the class Marsupialia and the family Macropodidae, which means “having big or large feet.” Kangaroos have powerful hind legs, large feet and a strong tail and are the only large animals to use hopping as their main means of locomotion. Female kangaroos have a pouch.

There are four species of kangaroo, ranging in size from between 3 and 8 feet tall and weighing 40 to 200 pounds. Kangaroos are fast runners and can jump a distance of up to 30 feet.

Kangaroos are native to Australia, Tasmania and several nearby islands. A highly adaptable species, they live in a wide range of habitats, including woodlands, grasslands, savannas and forests. They are herbivores with specialized teeth, including incisors designed for cutting low-lying grasses and molars adapted to grinding their food. A kangaroo typically loses its molars and grows new ones several times during its lifetime. Like cows, kangaroos have chambered stomachs, and they regurgitate their food and chew it again before digesting it.

Kangaroos live in large groups, called mobs. Infants, called joeys, are born after one month of gestation and then live in the mother’s pouch, nursing and growing, for between 120 and 400 days. Even after leaving the pouch, young joeys continue to nurse for about a year and a half. Females lose the ability to become pregnant during periods of drought, but when resources are plentiful, they give birth annually.