Group of eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus). By Robyn Butler |
Group of eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus). By Robyn Butler |

About the eastern grey kangaroo.

Despite its scientific name (Macropus giganteus), that seems to say otherwise, this one is not the largest existing Kangaroo species. Its relative, the red kangaroo, is bigger in size.

These animals eat mainly at night, resting in the shelter of shrubs during the day to avoid the heat.

Like their relatives, grey kangaroos can move very fast hopping (the tendons in their hind legs are like springs) and can also swim very well. They have recorded speeds of up to 64 km/h in an open field and jumps of up to 9 m.

Kangaroos can not move their front legs independently, so they use them, hopping or leaning on their tails and hind legs (much shorter), to be able to move slower from one place to the other. Moreover, these animals can not walk backwards.

They are very sociable animals that gather in groups (called mobs) of up to 20 of them, females, males and joeys, if there is enough pasture for all.

During the mating season, grey kangaroo males can get into fights for a female. They stand on their tails to kick with their back feet and they can even bite or scratch their opponents.

Females have a marsupium where joeys complete their development after birth. With only 36 days, the baby, quite undeveloped, crawls up into the mother’s pouch to start feeding by nursing from its mother’s milk. It will remain there 283 days, when it will start emerging occasionally from the pouch to eat with its mother.

Kangaroos are capable of gestating a new embryo while another is developing in the marsupium. They can keep this new embryo in a state of dormancy (embryonic diapause) waiting for its turn to develop. This is why it is commonly said that female kangaroos are always pregnant.

They have a great sense of hearing, sight and smell. They can rotate their ears to point them towards a sound source and remain alert for any predator that may show up.

When a kangaroo in a mob detects danger, it thumps the ground with its rear feet to warn the others.

Males from this species are much larger than females, even three times the weight of a female occasionally.

One of the main problems with kangaroos is the conflict with livestock, as they jump over the fences to feed on the same pastures. For a long time they were considered a ‘plague’, and many of them were killed for that reason, as well as for its meat and fur.

Grey kangaroo mum with a baby joey in the pouch. By Kjuuurs |
Grey kangaroo mum with a baby joey in the pouch. By Kjuuurs |
Eastern Grey KangarooLeast concern
Macropus giganteus0.84m – 1.3m (2,75 ft – 4,26 ft)
Macropodidae17-66 kg (37-146 lbs)
Diprotodontia8 – 10 years in the wild.
MammaliaA gestation of 36 days. 283 days in the mother’s marsupium (or pouch).
Between 10,000 and 20,000 animalsThey are herbivores that feed on different kinds of grass.
Open areas (grasslands) close to shrubs where they take shelter during the day.Southeast of Australia and Tasmania.

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Zoo portraits is a creative and educational project based on the animal kingdom and is divided into three main areas: Image, education and awareness.


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