TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Title Page 2. Table of Contents 3. Body Structure 4. Habitat 5. Predetation 6. Reproduction 7. Family Life 8. Environmental Adaptations 9. Picture 10. Bibliography ENVIRONMENTAL ADAPTATIONS The kangaroo has adapted to many different types of climates. The gray kangaroo has adapted to life in the grasslands. It has stronger legs for leaping. Its feet are also wide. Its snout is longer and more pointed for finding berries. It also can hear better because there are more predators like dingoes and large birds in its environment.
The smaller wallabies of Australia have adapted to dryer and higher conditions. It can go longer without water. Its claws are also sharper for finding water. Its legs are not as big or strong because they do not leap as much. Therefore, their body weight has been reduced, allowing them to be more efficient with they water they can find.
They also have wider feet than the kangaroos living in wetter climates. This allows the kangaroo to be able to have more traction in the higher elevations.
The kangaroos that live in the coastal regions also have several special adaptations. They have wider feet to allow them to walk is shallow water. They can eat several different types of sea plants. They can do this because they have a higher tolerance to salt than normal kangaroos.
Kangaroos that live in forests have adapted to this climate as well. Their feet are wide to allow them to climb trees. This allows them to eat leaves off of the trees. They also do not have claws as long as other species. There is usually a larger supply of fresh water in the forests.
FAMILY STRUCTURE A group of kangaroos living together is called a mob. The dominant male of the mob is called the boomer. The females are called flyers, and the young are called joeys. They joeys of the mob like to play and fight like most other animals. The boomer is the leader of the mob and shows by "boxing" with the joeys. As the male joey reaches the age of adulthood, he will learn to fight more.
The boomer is the most important member of the mob. He mates with other females. He also controls the joeys by boxing with them. When the male joey is old enough, he will fight the boomer. If the joey wins, he becomes the boomer. If he loses, he will seek a new mob to join. There they will fight with the new boomer. If it wins, it will become the boomer of the new mob and mate.
The females are less violent than the males. They usually only fight to protect themselves of their young. They usually only mate with the boomer of the mob. Female kangaroos will fight each other occasionally. When they do, it is usually because of their joeys. When they fight, the loser will usually leave the mob. If the joey is old enough, it will stay with the mob.
The joeys fight with one another to learn and sharpen their skills. They must learn to defend themselves if they leave the mob. A female joey will fight as much as the male joey. As it gets older, it will settle down. When it is about one year old, it will mate with the boomer or sometimes with another male. The boomer will fight the male if it sees the lesser male mating with another female.
HABITAT Most kangaroos live on the grasslands and deciduous forests of Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. Some kangaroos live in or near the coastal regions. Kangaroos are herbivorous. Their diets include many grasses and short shrublike plants. They also enjoy eating berries, when they can find them. They are hunted because they eat grass that local livestock graze on.
An adult kangaroo can survive a time of several months without water. When they must find water, they dig wells. These wells litter the landscape during the dry months. Other animals will come to drink around it. If the water hole has a substantial supply of water, then other kangaroos will dig the well deeper and farther out. Then the kangaroos will create a water hole suitable for many animals to drink from daily.
The landscape the kangaroo lives on varies greatly. Some species live on the flat, fertile lands. These lands are abundant in grass and other plants. Other species of kangaroo live in higher elevations. They must have good balance and vision to be safe in their environment. Another environment kangaroos live in are the warm, coastal regions. Here, they eat different types of sea plants. They have thinner, shorter hair to keep them cool during they blazing days. They usually have to find or make water holes, because they cannot drink the salty water.
Living in these different types of environments brings upon its own kind of danger. Near coastal regions, the kangaroo must be careful not to step or leap onto coral. In the higher elevations, they must have good jumping and balance to keep from falling. They must also be more efficient, because grass is harder to come by.
BODY STRUCTURE A full-grown male kangaroo can reach a height of six feet and a weight of up to two hundred pounds. Kangaroos have a small deerlike head and snout. It has large sensitive ears and eyes. Its forelimbs are short and are used for only a couple of tasks. The hind legs are very powerful and long. The hind feet are long and narrow, sometimes a foot and a half long. The tail is about four feet long and is used for balancing while taking leaps.
The color of the kangaroo varies by species, but it mostly a brownish-grey. The chest and underside of the towel is mostly white. The fur is short and thick to keep it warm during the cold nights. The joey is born hairless, but grows hair quickly in the mother's pouch. The first hair the joey gets is very light, but darkens as the joey grows more.
The paws and feet have long sharp claws for digging water holes called kangaroo pits. They also find food like berries and nuts in the underbrush and find them with their claws. They are considered a good luck charm if you would happen to find one, because they are very strong and do not break easily.
The mother's pouch is very important in the joey's life. First, it acts as a blanket for the young, keeping it warm during its development. It also protects against the elements such as the sun and rain. The pouch also protects the joey from enemies. In the first hint of danger, the joey will climb into the pouch until the danger has left the area. The pouch is very stretchable and can hold the thirty to forty pound joey with ease.
REPRODUCTION A kangaroo's young, called a joey, is born very immature. It is only about two centimeters long and only weighs about a gram. After birth, the joey crawls up the mother's body into the mother's pouch. There, the joey attached onto one of four teats. The teat it attaches to enlarges to secure the young against the body, while the others get smaller. Here it is kept warm and safe from any outside conditions or dangers.
After several weeks, they joey comes out of the pouch. It can barely hold itself up, and needs its mother's help to do everything. After about six weeks after birth, the joey spends more and more time out of the pouch. During this time, it goes back in when there are dangerous conditions around it. It also gets weaned off the mother's milk during this time. After about seven to ten months time, the joey leaves the pouch completely. Then it joins the rest of the pack.
Female kangaroos enter into heat just days after giving birth. They mate and conceive, but after only about one week of development, the embryo enters into a dormant state until the previous young leaves the pouch. Then it continues its development. After a gestation period of about thirty days, it is born. Days later the mother enters heat and the process starts over.
PREDETATION Many animals hunt the kangaroo. Their greatest opponent was the Tasmanian wolf, now extinct. Others include dingoes, a breed of wild dogs. Large birds also prey on kangaroos, preferring the smaller, weaker joey. Pythons and guannas (a type of large lizard) also hunt kangaroos. A full grown male is usually too big for these predators and is usually safe. These animals usually prefer to hunt the smaller joeys and females. The joey will hide in the mother's pouch if predators are around.
In recent years, humans have become a dangerous threat to the kangaroo. They are hunted because they compete with livestock for water holes and grasslands. In some areas of Australia, it is legal to obtain a hunting license and hunt kangaroos. This helps prevent overcrowding and helps save grass for livestock. However, the hunters can only kill a certain number per year, or be susceptible to strict fines.
Another greater problem than legal hunting is illegal hunting. Kangaroo hides carry a price of several hundred dollars on them in Europe and the Western Hemisphere. In other areas in Australia, farmers murder kangaroos without a license because they believe they are a pest and they ruin crops and eat all the grass. This crime is very punishable in Australia because kangaroos are considered a natural resource like oil. Indians believe because kangaroos are found only in Australia and surrounding countries that they are a gift from the gods.
BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. 1988 World Book Encyclopedia J-K (11), page 213-215, World Book, Inc.
2. International Wildlife Encyclopedia Volume 9, Litroy Edition, page 1208-1213, Marshal Candism Corp.
3. Britannica Encyclopedia Britannica Volume 6, page 717-718, Published by University of Chicago 4. New Encyclopedia of Science Volume 8, page 1022, Raintree Publishers 5. Internet--http://uger/rutgers/edu/~tempest/kangaroo.htm