The red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) is the largest of all kangaroos, the largest terrestrial mammal native to Australia, and the largest extant marsupial.
The Red Kangaroo is a large kangaroo with a body length of up to 1.4m and tail up to 1m. Males tend to be orange red in colouring while females are often blue grey. Both males and females are a lighter whitish colour underneath. Red Kangaroo’s can be distinguished from other species of kangaroos by the black and white patches on their cheeks and the broad white stripe that extends from the corner of the mouth to ear. Male Red Kangaroos are double the body weight of females and can weigh up to 92kg while the females can weigh up to 39kg.
Red kangaroos hop along on their powerful hind legs and do so at great speed. A red kangaroo can reach speeds of over 35 miles (56 kilometers) an hour. Their bounding gait allows them to cover 25 feet (8 meters) in a single leap and to jump 6 feet (1.8 meters) high.
The red kangaroo ranges throughout western and central Australia. Its range encompasses scrubland, grassland, and desert habitats. It typically inhabits open habitats with some trees for shade. Red kangaroos are capable of conserving enough water and selecting enough fresh vegetation to survive in an arid environment. The kangaroo’s kidneys are also great at concentrating urine, particularly during summer.
Red kangaroo primarily eat green vegetation, particularly fresh grasses and forbs, and can get enough even when most plants look brown and dry. One study of kangaroos in Central Australia found that green grass makes up 75–95% the diet, with Eragrostis setifolia dominating at 54%. This grass continues to be green into the dry season. Kangaroos also primarily consumed this species, along with Enneapogon avanaceus, in western New South Wales where they comprised much as 21–69% of its diet according to a study. During dry times, kangaroos search for green plants by staying on open grassland and near watercourses.
At times, red kangaroos congregate in large numbers; in areas with much forage, these groups can number as much as 1,500 individuals. Red kangaroos are mostly crepuscular and nocturnal, resting in the shade during the day. However, they sometimes move about during the day. Red kangaroos rely on small saltbushes or mulga bushes for shelter in extreme heat rather than rocky outcrops or caves. Grazing takes up most of their daily activities.
Red kangaroos live in groups of 2–4 members. The most common groups are females and their young. Larger groups can be found in densely populated areas and females are usually with a male. Membership of these groups is very flexible, and males (boomers) are not territorial, fighting only over females (flyers) that come into heat. Males develop proportionately much larger shoulders and arms than females. Most agonistic interactions occur between young males, which engage in ritualised fighting known as 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. Compared to other kangaroo species, fights between red kangaroo males tend to involve more wrestling. Fights establish dominance relationships among males, and determine who gets access to estrous females.
The kangaroo is a recognisable symbol of Australia. The kangaroo and emu feature on the Australian Coat of Arms. Kangaroos have also been featured on coins, most notably the five kangaroos on the Australian one dollar coin. The Australian Made logo consists of a golden kangaroo in a green triangle to show that a product is grown or made in Australia.