Australia has a weird and wacky collection of indigenous animals. This may have something to do with being so far from anywhere. On second thoughts, perhaps it’s the climate. Australian humans do also have their quirks and I’m trying to be polite. Over and above the kangaroo they also have two animals that lay eggs (I’m not kidding), the bipedal pademelon, and a half dog half ferocious wolf they call a Tasmanian devil that I’m not about to take to bed. By the way, I lied when I said there was only one other standing mammal in Australia, and the clue’s in the sentence just before.

To complicate matters further there are four kinds of kangaroos, namely the common red, the eastern gray, the western gray and the antilopine one that has fur like a buck. There’s no chance of ‘roos disappearing off the planet anytime soon, as there are close to twenty million of them.

Cooling off before mobbing up

Cooling off before mobbing up.
Photo by Evangelio Gonzalez

Officially they are supposed to eat grass and shrubs in forests, woodlands, grassy plains and savannas. In reality they travel in mobs lead by dominant males referred to as boomers, jacks and bucks. Before you ask, the females are does, jills or flyers and the babies joeys. So Jack and Jill go up the hill Down Under too, although what they get up when they get there is another story.

Kangaroos have huge flat feet and heavy tails. This eliminates the possibility of walking like one other standing mammal in Australia. When they are on the way to church on Sundays they balance on the latter and waddle slowly. Otherwise they bound across the countryside like a giant double pogo stick at speeds of up to 44mph, although they generally prefer to pogo more sedately.

Big Butch Roo Bar

Big butch ‘roo bar.
Image Shack

After Jack and Jill have done their thing, junior pops out after little longer than a month. It’s a miserable little critter about an inch long, blind and with hardly any feet. No worries there. It uses its arms to pull itself up through mum’s wooly fur, and then drops into the pouch on her tummy where it conveniently finds her nipples full of milk. I did say Australia has a weird and wacky collection of indigenous animals and I wasn’t kidding.

That said, kangaroos are hardly what I’d call cute.  They can grow to 8 foot tall and weigh in at 200 pounds. They pack a serious punch with their back feet and are not called bigfoot for nothing. They also have an irritating habit of bounding down country roads and leap-frogging over cars coming towards them. If they don’t make it, which happens often, the results can be quite spectacular. If they do make it across, be grateful there are only claw marks on the roof.