At Flamingo Land we are welcoming two red kangaroos to our collection. We received a male and a female (both around 1 year old) from a zoo in Munich at the end of August. They are settling in well and will hopefully form breeding pairs with our other two red kangaroos.
The red kangaroo is the largest living marsupial, reaching around 2m in height. Males are larger in size and tend to be a reddish-brown colour, whereas the females are greyer.
However, at the moment our new pair are both fairly grey! The chest and lower parts of the limbs are white with a light tip of the tail, unlike the grey kangaroos which are dark. They also have a white stripe along their cheek.
They are native to Australia and are fairly common throughout central parts, though are more numerous in arid areas. They are herbivores, eating mainly grass and shrubs and obtain most of their water from the food, therefore putting them at an advantage when living in such a dry environment.
Whilst living in the wild, the red kangaroo would rest during the heat of the day and would sometimes lick their forearms to help keep them cool. They have very powerful hind legs used for locomotion. They can reach speeds of up to 64km per hour, and up to 9m with each jump!
Similarly to grey kangaroos, the male red kangaroos fight with each other to gain breeding access to the females, which can occur all year round.
Females are pregnant for only around a month and they give birth to a young joey weighing on average just 0.75g. This tiny, fur-less infant then has to climb up to its mothers pouch and remains there to continue growing, whilst having access to her milk.
During this time, the mother is able to perform embryonic diapause, which means she can halt the growth of a newly developing embryo and focus her energy on looking after the one within her pouch.
The young joey would start to stick its head out of her pouch when it is around 5 months old and it becomes fully independent around 8 months old. Their lifespan would be up to 27 years.
The red kangaroo population in Australia is managed. Their meat is used for both human consumption and in pet food, while their skin can be used for leather.