Western Grey Kangaroo Fact File
Wild 10 years
Captive 20 years
Grass, Shrubs, Crops
The western grey kangaroo is a native of Australia where they can be found across the south-west of the country.
Western grey kangaroos are herbivores. They feed on a range of plants, crops and shrubs. Their stomach is multi-chambered to allow them to digest the cellulose in the food.
As a marsupial they give birth to an unfurred young which is roughly the size of a jellybean. This develops inside of a pouch and grows until it is ready to emerge. Unlike most other macropods they are not capable of embryonic diapause.
Unlike many other Australian animals which have seen population declines since European settlement these animals have seen an increase in population. Their population is controlled through annual culling quotas.
Read on to learn more about these marvellous mammals.
Across their back the western grey kangaroo is colored brown with some grey flecks in it. The end of the tail, paws and feet tend to be darker in color while on the underside they have light almost white fur. A white stripe is present along the jaw.
At the end of the body is a strong tail measuring 42-100cm (16.5-39.4in) long.
These animals are extremely muscular with muscle making up as much as 80% of their body weight.
Their molars are worn down as they eat and they are then replaced.
Males are significantly larger than females. An average male will measure 1-2.2m (3.3-7.3ft) long with a weight of 18-72kg (40-159lbs) while females measure 1-1.7m (3.3-5.8ft) long with a weight of 17-39kg (37.5-86lbs).
Their is some slight variations to color and size across their range.
These animals are herbivores. The main component of their diet is grass with plants, shrubs and some crops also being consumed.
To help digest the tough cellulose in their diet they have a multi-chambered stomach.
Australia is the native home of the western grey kangaroo. Here they live in the south-west of the country from the coastline of the Indian ocean in Western Australia across South Australia and in to central Victoria and New South Wales.
Their range has expanded in recent years within South Australia and in New South Wales.
A subspecies of the western grey kangaroo is found on Kangaroo Island off the South Australian coastline.
These animals make their home in forest, savanna, grassland and shrubland.
Human modified habitats such as croplands, golf courses and pasture are also used by the western grey kangaroo.
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These animals can breed year round though births peak during October and November. A single joey is born after a 31 day gestation period. At birth the young lack fur and are just the size of a jellybean. The eyes are closed. They will climb up their mothers belly to the pouch. To help find their way the mother licks along the path and the joey will use its sense of smell to find the pouch.
A western kangaroo joey will spend the next 42 weeks in the pouch on mom’s belly where they will develop.
Young leave the pouch at 12 months old but may continue to suckle until 18 months old.
Females reach sexual maturity at 14 months with males maturing later at 20 months.
The mother will mate again soon after her joey leaves the pouch.
Unlike most other macropods these animals are not capable of embryonic diapause. This is the process of having an embryo waiting for when the current joey leaves the pouch.
These animals exhibit a crepuscular activity pattern and are active during the late afternoon and early morning.
Western grey kangaroos will use a series of soft clicks to communicate with one another. When threatened they can produce a growl.
They have a range of adaptation to help survive in the heat of Australia. They will lick the forearms and pant to help cool them. When exercising they can sweat. The volume of the vascular system can be adjusted to help maintain the function of the heart.
Western grey kangaroos move around as part of a group known as a mob. This includes anywhere from 1 – 16 members. Adult females and young are the core of the group with males joining them.
During periods of hot weather they will rest in areas of shade.
In a short burst the western grey kangaroo will reach speeds up to 56kmh (35mph).
They have the ability to swim using a doggie paddle style.
As below juvenile western grey kangaroos will box one another to pass time. These skills are used as adults to assert their position as the head of the mob.
Predators and Threats
Dingoes are one of the few recorded natural predators of the western grey kangaroo. They primarily take young and sick individuals. Young are also taken by wedge-tailed eagles and the introduced red fox.
When flies and mosquitos are in abundance they will frequently shake their head to get them away.
This species has seen significant increases in its population over recent history.
Control measures are undertaken to reduce the population. These including culling to prevent damage to the crops and pasture. National management plans for the species have been developed to control the commercial use of the species.
These commercially harvested individuals are turned in to meat, skins and products which are sold to tourists.
Their populations are reduced further through vehicle strikes, habitat loss and drought which can prevent the survival of joeys.
Males western grey kangaroos are nicknamed the ‘Stinker’ duet their strong odour.
One subspecies of the western grey kangaroo is found on Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia.
A male western grey kangaroo is known as a buck or a boomer and females are known as does or fliers. Young are known as joeys. A group of kangaroos is called a mob.
The first half of their scientific name Macropus means “big foot.”
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