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Western Gray Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus) Fact Sheet: Summary

Western Gray Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus)

Western Gray Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus) Fact Sheet

A single Western Grey Kangaroo

Western Gray Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus)

Image credit: © Gary Meredith at Flickr. All rights reserved. Used with permission from the artist.

 

Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Diprotodontia – koalas, wombats, possums, and macropods (kangaroos, tree kangaroos, wallabies, etc.)

Family: Macropodidae – kangaroos, tree kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons, etc.

Genus: Macropus

Subgenus: Macropus (Macropus)

Species: Macropus fuliginosus - western gray kangaroo

Subspecies: M. f. fuliginosus
Subspecies: M. f. melanops

Body Weight
Male: 18-72 kg (39-158 lb)
Female: 17-39 kg (37-86 lb)

Head-to-tail Length
Male: 94.6-222.5 cm (37.2-87.6 in)
Female: 67.1-174.6 cm (26.4-68.7 in)

Tail Length
Male: 42.5-100 cm (16.7-39.4 in)
Female: 44.3-81.5 cm (17.4-32.1 in)

Pelage
Shades of brown to brownish-gray; paler on underside.
White stripe along lower jawline.
Often darker face, paws, elbows, feet, and/or end of tail.

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Range
Southern Australia, from Shark Bay to southwest Queensland. Includes west New South Wales, west Victoria, and Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

Habitat
Various types of open woodland, scrubland, and grassland. Also, pastureland.

IUCN Status
Least Concern

CITES Appendix
Not listed

Other Designations
Australian government: protected as a native species

Population in Wild
Populations reported to be increasing; Australian Government estimates 4.8 million individuals (2017 surveys).

Locomotion
Bipedal hop, especially at higher speeds.
Use four limbs and tail to walk at slower speeds.
Can swim, if necessary.

Activity Cycle
Strongly influenced by temperature and day length.
Rest when weather is hot; active when cool (dawn, dusk, at night). Influenced by season, weather, location, and food availability.

Social Groups
Highly social. Structured groups and subgroups, but considerable movement of individuals in and out of groups. Adult females with young and juveniles form the core of groups.

Diet
Mainly grasses (native and introduced). Some shrubs, trees, and other types of plants. Also consume some crops and “poison bushes,” which have fluroacetate toxins as a defense.

Predators
Adults: humans, and in some areas, dingoes; historically, the Tasmanian wolf/Tasmanian tiger, before arrival of the dingo from Asia.
Young: European red foxes and Wedge-tailed Eagles thought to contribute significantly to mortality of young, but more research is needed.

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Gestation
31 days, on average (range: 27-54)

Litter Size
Usually one

Interbirth Interval
Except during drought, females give birth each year

Birth Weight
0.82 g (0.03 oz)

Age at Weaning
About 18 months

Longevity
In the wild: 20 years or longer; individuals older than 10-12 years are rare
In captivity: typically 15-20 years; up to 23 years

Feature Facts

  • Gray kangaroos are the most social macropods
  • Save energy by hopping at faster speeds
  • Pant, sweat, and lick forearms to cool down
  • Microorganisms living in their forestomach aid in digestion and in detoxifying chemical plant defenses
  • Teeth wear down and are eventually shed
  • Males have more muscle mass in their forearms than females; helps them defeat rival males
  • High mortality among males; few survive to breed successfully
  • Males smell like curry
  • Important, symbolic animal of Australia's national heritage as well as within Australian Aboriginal cultures
  • In colonial times, European settlers hunted kangaroo in a style comparable to English foxhunts
  • Today, commercially harvested in some parts of Australia for meat, skins (to make leather), and to create products sold to tourists

About This Fact Sheet

For detailed information, click the tabs at the top of this page.

 

© 2017 San Diego Zoo Global. Population estimates updated May 2018.

 

How to cite: Western Gray Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus) Fact Sheet. c2017. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/ westerngraykangaroo
(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 library@sandiegozoo.org.

Acknowledgments

We wish to thank Dr. Sarah Garnick for providing expert content review of this fact sheet.

Dr. Garnick has a decade of experience working with kangaroos and wallabies (macropods) across Victoria, Australia. She completed her PhD on the habitat and diet requirements of macropods in southeastern Australia at the University of Melbourne in 2014. She has worked for the Victorian State Government on biodiversity protection across public and private lands. At the time of this writing, she is working to improve methods for determining herbivore diet composition for rangeland managers at Texas A&M University, USA.

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