Kangaroos are the largest marsupials in the world. They can be found in Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. Grass, grass trees, young shoots and leaves of health plants make up the diet of these herbivores. Standing on two legs, the kangaroo is known for its strong hind legs and tail which it uses to hop up to 40 mph. Before a kangaroo becomes an adult it goes through three other stages in its life cycle; birth, Joey and advanced Joey.
When a Kangaroois born it is about the size of a jelly bean. A newborn is typically less than two centimeters long and weighs less than two grams. Because the baby kangaroo is so small the mother cannot even touch it. In order for it to crawl into its mother’s pouch, the mother kangaroo will lick a path in her fur. Once this journey is completed the baby attaches its mouth to its mother’s teat for food. The lungs, brain and other organs of the baby are still growing during this stage. This stage lasts for seven to ten months, while the baby stays in its mother’s pouch.
Following months of growth and development the baby kangaroo will finally be ready to leave his mother’s pouch. The mother kangaroo has muscles that allow her to tighten and relax her pouch, and when the Joeyis ready she will relax her pouch causing the Joey to fall out. At first, the Joey will only stay out for minutes at a time. Progressively the young kangaroo will spend more time out of its mother’s pouch, although it will still remain close by her side. A scared Joey will jump headfirst into the pouch of its mother. Eventually she will not allow the young kangaroo back in her pouch.
At this stage the kangaroo weighs around 60 pounds. An advanced Joeyis not an adult but is gaining more independence. Despite being more independent it does not leave its mother completely and still depends on her for protection. Adult males are not friendly with the advanced Joeys and will chase them if they come near.
An adult kangaroocan weigh between 75 and 200 pounds with females typically weighing less than males. Males have a reddish color and females are bluish-gray. The kangaroo’s powerful legs allow it to make jumps of nearly 30 feet in distance and up to 8 feet high. Males reach sexual maturity at between 15 and 20 months and females take 20 to 24 months. Although most kangaroos probably do not survive their first year, they have lived as long as 22 years in the wild. In captivity their life span is around 16 years. They have excellent hearing and vision and can go long periods of time without water. Dingos are the natural predators of kangaroos, although their biggest threat is humans. Historically they have been hunted for their meet and hides. Kangarooscan protect themselves with powerful blows from their hind legs.