Western Gray Kangaroo
Social and very communicative, western gray kangaroos live together in organized groups known as “mobs” that can contain up to 50 animals. They are mainly nocturnal, spending the daytime hours sheltering in the shade of trees and shrubs. A dominant male leads the group, as they travel from place to place in search of browse. Males compete for the right to mate with females by “boxing” with their upper limbs.
Western gray kangaroos eat grasses, herbs, leaves, bark, and shrubs. They have digestive tracts like cows, which help them get more nutrition from their food through bacterial fermentation. This helps sustain them in their dry habitat.
Kangaroos are marsupials, which means that their young, called “joeys” begin their lives in a pouch on the mother’s belly. Joeys are still developing when they are born, and weigh less than an ounce. They make their way from the birth canal to their mother’s pouch on their own and attach themselves to their mother’s nipple. They stay tucked inside the pouch for the first several weeks, before they begin to emerge for quick explorations. By 11 month, the joey moves out of the pouch, and is completely weaned by 17 months. They can live up to 20 years in zoos.
Population Status & Threats
Some habitat loss, as well as hunting and drought, have affected Australia’s population of western gray kangaroos. For the most part, however, they still inhabit most of their original range and are not considered to be in danger of extinction.