The kangaroo is undoubtedly Australia’s best known animal. There’s a good reason for this, it’s a creature unlike any found anywhere else in the world. It is large, unique, and fascinating.
At full size, a kangaroo is also unthinkably large. Adult males have been confirmed and recorded standing at 2m tall (6” 9’) and weighing close to 100kg, or 200lb. There are unconfirmed but entirely likely sightings of individuals up to 150kg (330lb). An adult male kangaroo is called a buck, or a boomer. Females are mostly called jills, but doe is also used.
A large boomer is not just tall, but… there’s no better way to say it… they’re freaking ripped. The chest muscles on a red kangaroo would impress any body builder. Their front paws are hardly vestigial like people seem to think. They’re powerful limbs equipped with sharp claws. Kangaroos are actually unexpectedly strong swimmers, and if chased will run into the water, then turn and deliberately drown their attacker, holding them under with those strong arms. They also use them to fight, pushing and poking each other in a manner known as “boxing”.
But if their arms are strong… A large red kangaroo weighs over 100 kilograms, and their legs can launch them nearly 10m in a single jump. Those legs are intended to cover the huge distances that occur in central Australia, a place where some individual farms are measured in millions of acres. To give an American perspective, one farm is about the size of Vermont. Slightly larger than Israel.
A kangaroo can happily lope along at a speed of 20km/h, but reach speeds of 56km/h if they need to. (That’s 12mph and 35mph.) The secret to this bounding is not just the sheer power in their legs. The hamstring equivalent of a kangaroo is basically a bungie cord. Rather just holding the impact it stretches, and then snaps back, releasing most of the energy back into their leap, like a pogo stick. By moving constantly forward relying on this spring and minimal energy input the red kangaroo can travel the outback impressively efficiently.
This brings us to the question of whether they’re dangerous. The answer is a hard one. They certainly can be. When threatened (or just being a dick) the Red Kangaroo can rear back on its incredibly tough tail, and launch its legs forward in a devastating kick. Bearing in mind this is a kick with the power to launch 100kg over 10m and it’s easy to see that this could do damage. There was a death recorded in 1936 where a man’s dogs were attacking a kangaroo and he went to pull them off, only to be killed by the roo. That’s the only confirmed death, but people being kicked and injured is common. You can find plenty of video on Youtube, and it’s not hard to see why serious injury could occur.
The most dangerous thing about kangaroos is not their kick, however. It’s their jumping. Kangaroos move around the most at dusk and dawn. This is a poor vision time for drivers on Australia’s very long and rarely fenced-off roads. Because of their huge leaps, they have the ability to almost appear directly on the road, and roo-caused accidents and fatalities are not a rarity. This can happen either through direct impact with a 100kg animal, or more likely swerving to avoid one.
The Red Kangaroo isn’t the only kind of Kangaroo. The smaller Eastern Grey has a larger population and is more likely to be seen in inhabited areas. Even smaller species are known as Wallabies, and are adorable, with softer features that look a bitlike a possum.
Smaller kangaroo species can still kick powerfully, but their impact and danger diminishes with their size.
It’s got to be brought up. Kangaroos also have weird junk. The males of smaller species (not the Eastern Gray or Red Kangaroos) have a forked penis, which works out great because the female has three vaginas. There’s a common doorway, but then three paths. This setup, along with the two uteri, make the jill an impressive baby-making machine. She can have one joey in her pouch, a foetus on the boil and an egg ready and waiting for a strapping boomer to hop on by. Impressively, she can even hit pause on the feotus like a Netflix binge, and stop its development until food is more available or she just feels like it.