Lessons with Dad: Kangaroos

Hello my little fellows, Cashmirino bear Dad here again, with another interesting little story about an amazing animal. The last time, we spoke about horses which are very fast animals – can you imagine an animal which can outrun a racehorse? This animal is also very large and not very common. It is not domesticated and not to be kept indoors. This is not a family animal but it can be tamed for zoo purposes. They also made a famous film with one of them, I hope you are guessing… Yesss! Bravo! It’s the kangaroo!

Kangaroos are affectionately called ‘roos’. There are different species of kangaroos: The Red, the Antilopine, the Eastern Grey & the Western Grey Kangaroo. The Red Kangaroo is the largest and can grow up to two metres! Kangaroos are mammals like us and specifically called ‘marsupials’ because they carry their young in a pouch. Large kangaroos live around 12-18 years, while smaller kangaroos live for 5-8 years.

Kangaroos are herbivores. Can you guess what that means? It means they eat and live off plants; they do not eat meat. They take eating their veggies very seriously, as I am sure you do too!

They live in rain forests, deserts and jungles. They are native to Australia, New Guinea, Tazmania, New Zealand and Hawaii. There are actually more kangaroos than humans in Australia. They are their national pride and pictures of them can be found on postage stamps, coins etc. Imagine that!

Kangaroos are like us, they don’t live in isolation. Just like you have your mum, dad and possibly siblings with you most of the time, kangaroos always have three of four others around them too. It may not always be their family but it could be friends, just like you would have. You normally see them gathered together; a group of kangaroos can be called a, ‘mob’, ‘troop’ or ‘court’. Male kangaroos are called bucks, boomers, jacks or even old men! Female kangaroos are called does, flyers and jills.

Kangaroos have brilliant hearing and can move their ears round without moving their head. Their ears are on top of their head, normally perked up listening for sounds. They also have quite a small head as compared to the rest of their body. Sometimes when kangaroos graze on grass which is not good for them, they can begin to stagger and their heads wobble and shake.

Female kangaroos are very special and I am sure you can guess why. It is because of how they reproduce and have baby kangaroos (which are called ‘joeys’). Female kangaroos have a pouch in front of them, over their belly where joeys grow up. Just like young humans grow in their mothers’ bellies, kangaroos grow in their mothers’ pouches. They are born in the seventh month of the pregnancy, while humans take 9 months usually. Very interestingly, if the female kangaroo feels that the circumstances are not right to give birth to the joey, she can delay the birth. How fantastic is that!

A mother kangaroo has specialised muscles inside her pouch, which make sure the joey does not fall out prematurely. She feeds the joey inside the pouch, which has several teats where it can get milk. The pouch gives the joey warmth and protection against viruses, bacteria and parasites. The mother will know when it is all right for the joey to get out and fend for itself. The mother kangaroo can also decide the sex of the kangaroo, whether it will be male or female.

When baby joeys are frightened, they jump into their mothers pouch head first! Who do you run to when you are frightened?

Let’s try a little exercise:

I will describe each limb of a kangaroo and then I want you to demonstrate to your family how you think it would move. Ready?

Kangaroos have two powerful hind (back) legs. These are extremely heavy and powerful; they can kick a human metres away if they use it with extreme force.

In between those legs, is a tail, which normally lies on the ground - it is equally as strong as their legs. They have two smaller paws above which they use to pull the joey into the pouch. They can use those to grab, eat, groom or even fight – these hands are smaller than their legs.

Now, how do you think kangaroos move? Do you think they walk on all four limbs like a dog, cat or horse? Or do you think they move one leg after the other just like humans? Demonstrate how you think they would move around!

Answer: The fact is that kangaroos move nothing like us. They hop, with their two hind legs firmly in place at the same time.

The only time they move one leg after the other is when they are swimming.

The tail between their legs is not only used for balance, but also to propel them to take off from the ground. They can hop twice as high as their height. Now, try again hopping like a kangaroo!

Can you jump twice as high as your height?

Well, my little friends, I hope you all enjoyed learning about kangaroos today! As usual, I have a little quiz below for you to refresh all that you have just learnt! Even more fun, you could make this into a quiz and ask around the members of your family to see who gets it right!

Take care my sweet little friends and until the next time!

Sources: Labroots

Onekindplanet

National Geographic

Quiz:

What do kangaroos eat?

Answer: Kangaroos are herbivores. They eat plants and grass!

What are baby kangaroos called?

Answer: They are called joeys!

Where do female kangaroos carry their young?

Answer: In their pouch!

How do kangaroos move? What is that movement called?

Answer: It is called hopping.

There is no use of a kangaroos tail! True/ False

Answer: False, it’s used to propel them and also for balance.

In which country are there more kangaroos than humans?

Answer: Australia

Can you keep kangaroos as a pet?

Answer: No

 


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