Kangaroo Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April Gwen Ellsworth

April has a master's degree in psychology and has experience teaching special populations from preschoolers to adults.

Australia's national animal is the kangaroo, and for good reason. More kangaroos live in Australia than people! They have fun names too. Males are called boomers, jacks, or bucks; females are does, flyers, or jills; and young kangaroos are called joeys. Find out more fun facts in this lesson on the kangaroo.

The Kangaroo

If a horse and kangaroo had a race, who do you think would win? Chances are the kangaroo would! It can move over 30 mph, which is faster than most race horses. But the fascinating part is that kangaroos can't run because their feet are too large to put one foot in front of the other, like we do. In fact, they can't even move backward.

So how do kangaroos get around so swiftly? By hopping! That's right, the kangaroo is the only large animal that moves mainly by hopping. Strong legs let kangaroos hop very fast and jump very high, and their big feet make them great swimmers. If they want to move more slowly, kangaroos use their strong tail as a 'third leg,' leaning back on it then pushing forward. What a great way to get around!

Basic Kangaroo Facts

There are four different kinds of kangaroos in the world, and they live mostly in Australia and Tasmania, but also in New Guinea, New Zealand, and Hawaii. They can live in almost any type of climate, including deserts, rain forests, wooded areas, and grassy plains. Kangaroos have thick hair that is gray, brown or red. They are about 5-6 foot-tall and weigh about 50-120 lbs. Kangaroos eat mostly grass and can go for a long time without drinking water, getting water from the plants they eat. Kangaroos live between five and fifteen years in the wild.

The four kinds of kangaroos are, starting at the top left and going around clockwise) the red kangaroo, eastern grey kangaroo, western grey kangaroo, and antilopine kangaroo.
kangaroo types

Social Animals

Kangaroos are social animals, which means they like to be with other kangaroos. They live in groups called mobs. Sometimes these groups are 3-4 kangaroos, like the size of some human families, but they can also be as large as 100 kangaroos.

Kangaroos are social animals.

Do you sometimes hug a parent or family member to show you love them? Kangaroos also show how they feel about each other. Sometimes they touch noses or sniff each other. Other times they play fight, even mothers and her young, which are called joeys, and especially young male kangaroos. They do this by putting their arms around each other's necks, touching their short, front paws together, and even kicking. Males also box to see who is the strongest. The largest male is the leader of the mob.

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