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Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus) Fact Sheet: Summary

Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus)

Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus) Fact Sheet

Red Kangaroo

Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical 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 (49-203 lb)
Female: 17-39 kg (37-86 lb)

Head-body Length
Male: 93.5-140 cm (3.07-4.6 ft)
Female: 74.5-110 cm (2.44-3.6 ft)

Tail Length
Male: 71-100 cm (2.4-3 ft)
Female: 64.5-90 cm (2.11-3 ft)

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

Distribution & Status Behavior & 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 (2015 assessment)

CITES Appendix
Not listed

Population in Wild
5.8 million (in 2017)

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 & Development Species 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

Typical Life Expectancy
Managed care: median life expectancy of about 8 years for males and 10 years for females

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 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

© 2011-2019 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Minor updates to Reproduction, Population & Conservation in 2016. Population estimate updated Mar 2019.


How to cite: Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus) Fact Sheet. c2011-2019. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. redkangaroo
(Note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)


Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance 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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