Red Kangaroo – Boomers and Flyers

The Red Kangaroo – Boomers and Flyers

The scientific name for Red Kangaroo is Macropus Rufus which means red great-foot.

Aussies just call them ROOS.

Males are called BOOMERS, females are called FLYERS and babies are called JOEYS.

Hey good looking!

The photos with this post were taken near St George Queensland this spring.

Red Kangaroo
Red Kangaroo

Red Kangaroo males are red and much bigger than the females. Females can be blue-grey or reddish with lighter colored chest and abdomen. The more arid the region the more likely females will have red coloring. You can see the males have a red chest and abdomen.

On average a male stands 1.5m tall and weighs 66 kg. A mature male can stand 1.8m and weigh as much as 85kg. The largest specimen recorded was a huge 2.1 meters tall and 91 kilograms. The red kangaroo is significantly larger than the Eastern Grey Kangaroo and Western Grey Kangaroo.

Female and Male Red Kangaroo
Female and Male Red Kangaroo

I find the muscular chests and arms of the Red Kangaroo striking. The black and white markings at the side of the mussel and the absence of hair between nostril and lip are the easiest way to be sure the Roo’s you are looking at are Red Kangaroos.

Habitat and diet

Red Roos live on inland plains and grasslands and need access to shade cover. I am so lucky to live where the habitats of the Eastern Grey Kangaroo and the Red Kangaroo meet and frequently see each species.

Kangaroos eat grass. While they have preferred grass they will browse on a range of grass and shrub species if their preferred food sources are not available.

Family Groups

Each family group is led by a dominant male. Groups range in size from two kangaroos to hundreds of members. Group membership is flexible. There may be several males in a group as they are not territorial. They do compete for females who are ready to mate. When there is a contest between males “boxing” may be seen.

When I came upon the group in this picture the males were boxing. As it is early spring one would be challenging for females. However as soon as they became aware of me the stopped and watched my approach until I was abaout 120 meters away before fleeing.

To box they stand on their hind legs and hit out with their forelimbs. Rocking back on their tail they kick out at their opponent. Red Kangaroos also engage in a wrestling behavior not seen in the other species of Kangaroo. Fights establish the hierarchy between the males in the group. When a dominant male loses he leaves the group.

Recently I was told of an encounter with a group of 200-300 Red Kangaroos about 8 hours west of Brisbane Queensland. My colleague stopped his car on a dirt road for a group “flying” across the road. I am told it was an inspiring sight. Just as the last of the flyers bounded past he noticed the boomer standing having overseen the whole procession and looking directly at him. The boomer, supremely confident in his power, hopped slowed past the stationary vehicle. I hope one day to see a large group on the fly.

Coping with the heat and dry

Red Kangaroo have developed a variety of physical, physiological and behavioral adaptions to keep their body temperature at 36% when the temperature soars to 45 degrees celsius and higher. These adaptions include:

• Red Kangaroos are not usually active in the warmer hours of the day and eek shade/cover in high temperatures.
• Kangaroos pant, sweat and lick their fore limbs to cool themselves.
• The fur of Red Kangaroos has an insulating layer.
• Roos will consume drought tolerant food sources as necessary
• The Kangaroos kidneys concentrate urine preserving the water in its body.
• Kangaroos eat the freshest shoots available as they have the highest water content

Other interesting adaptions

Eyes: The position of the Roo’s eyes allows for a 300 degree field of vision.
Swimming: These kangaroos are great swimmers

It was great researching this article. If you know other interesting facts about the Red Kangaroo let me know!

Amanda Jackson

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