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Red Kangaroo (Marcopus rufus) Fact Sheet, 2011   Tags: australia, fact sheet, hop, kangaroo, mammal, marsupial, outback, san diego zoo, sdzg  

Red Kangaroo (Marcopus rufus)
Last Updated: Jan 3, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Red Kangaroo (Marcopus rufus) Fact Sheet, 2011

Red kangaroo, <i>Macropus rufus</i>

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Diprotodontia

Family: Macropodidae

Genus: Macropus (Osphranter)

Species: Macropus rufus - red kangaroo

Body Weight
Male: 22-92 kg (48-203 lb)
Female: 17-39 kg (37-86 lb)

Body Length
Male: 93.5-140 cm (3.1-4.6 ft)
Female: 74.5-110 cm (2.5-3.6 ft)

Tail Length
Male: 71-100 cm (2.4-3.3 ft)
Female: 64.5-90 cm (2.2-3.0 in)

Blue-grey to red on back; white on belly.

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Arid regions of inland Australia

Prefer open, grassy plains with trees that provide shade. Also use shrublands, grasslands, and deserts.

IUCN Status
Least Concern (as of 2015 assessment)

CITES Appendix
Not listed

Population in Wild
11.5 million (in 2011)

Hop; foot thump, good swimmers. Tail used for balance.

Activity Cycle
Rest and feed most of the day. Most active after dawn and before dusk.

Social Groups
Average group size: 2-3 (range: 2-10). Groups ephemeral. Sedentary when possible.

Grasses and other plants

Adult red kangaroos: dingos and humans
Young red kangaroos: foxes, feral cats, raptors

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Sexual Maturity
Females: from 15 months; most around 30 months
Males: from 24 months; 28-39 months or later

About 33 days; young spend 7.5-8 months in pouch

Litter Size
Usually 1; 2 occasionally reported

Interbirth Interval
Varies with drought and environmental conditions. About every 240 days when vegetation is lush. With rainfall, mating resumes within days of giving birth.

Birth Weight
1 g (0.03 oz)

Age at Weaning
About 12 months

Up to 27 years

Feature Facts

  • Largest kangaroo species
  • Expend less energy the faster they hop
  • Unlike most other kangaroos, male and female red kangaroos have coats of different colors
  • Can turn their ears 180°
  • Dominance established by comparing body size and scent
  • Incredible tolerance to heat
  • During drought, rain stimulates female ovulation
  • Distribution of red kangaroos increased as humans redirected water for livestock and crops
  • Populations managed by Australian government; large-scale hunts for kangaroo meat and skins

About This Fact Sheet

© 2011 San Diego Zoo Global. Minor updates to Reproduction, Population & Conservation in 2016.

How to cite: Red Kangaroo (Marcopus rufus) Fact Sheet, 2011. c2011-2016. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(Note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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