The largest of member of the Kangaroo
family, it is native to the "Red Center" area of Australia
, or the dry, arid portion of the continent. They travel in groups (called mob
s) that can range in size from a few dozen to a few hundred. Similar to animals of other species (such as the gorilla
), the groups usually consist of one dominant male and a number of adult females, as well as adolescents of both sexes.
Contrary to the name, not all Red Kangaroos are red. The males are almost always red, but the females may vary from red to a bluish grey. A Red Kangaroo's weight can vary between 18 kg (39.6 lbs) and 90 kg (198 lbs), with males generally heavier than the females. Height varies from 74 to 140 cm (2.42 to 4.59 feet). The tail of a Red Kangaroo (used for jumping) ranges in length from 64cm (2.01 feet) to 1 meter (3.28 feet). In the wild, they can live as long as 15 years.
The Red Kangaroo has a naked muzzle similar to that of the Wallaroo. They have a black and white mark on the sides of the muzzle and a broad white stripe from the corner of mouth to base of ear.
Females are sexually mature at about eighteen months, males at about two years. There is a single young (Joey), though a mother can nurse more than one Joey at a time. Red Kangaroo Joeys remain in the pouch for 5-6 months. Over a period of 2-3 months they gradually spend more time away from the pouch, returning to its safety when they feel threatened. Joeys are usually weaned around 1 year of age, but will normally remain close to the mother for another 6 months or so.
In the desert, they are able to survive temperatures in excess of 40°C (104°F) using shade and avoiding activity during the day. Red Kangaroos also concentrate their urine to conserve water and thus can tolerate severe dehydration. They regulate their body temperature largely by panting and licking their forearms.
The kangaroo grazes during the night on a wide variety of grasses and low herbaceous plants, though sometimes this grazing period starts late evening and ends early morning. When water is available it will drink but, if it obtains sufficient green food, it does not need to do so.
When in danger, Red Kangaroos will thump the ground with their feet to warn other members of the mob
When male kangaroos fight, they may appear to be 'boxing'. They usually stand up on their hind limbs and attempt to push their opponent off balance by jabbing him or locking forearms. If the fight escalates, they will begin to kick each other. Using their tail to support their weight, they deliver kicks with their powerful hind legs. The hind legs of a fully grown Red Kangaroo are extremely powerfull. It is not a good idea to fight one, as one good kick can be lethal.