The Sacramento Zoo is home to four red kangaroos (Cheddar, Porter, Walter, and Jordon), the largest mammal in Australia. One of the most popular animals on the Sac Zoo website are kangaroos. We get so many questions about kangaroos every week! Here are a few of the most-asked questions.
What do kangaroos eat?
In the wild, kangaroos primarily eat leaves and grasses. At the Sacramento Zoo, our kangaroos eat grass, bamboo, acacia and herbivore pellets. The kangaroos also enjoy special treats, such as beets, carrots, broccoli, raisins, bananas, and apples in small amounts cut up into appropriate-sized pieces to be sprinkled over their pellets.
Do kangaroos sleep standing up or laying down?
Kangaroos do not sleep standing up. Kangaroos will find a nice, shady spot to lay down and take a snooze. They usually sleep on their side or on their back, using their forearms to support their chest and head.
Why can’t kangaroos jump backwards?
Kangaroos have big feet and a big, thick tail. Their feet and tail help them move quickly forwards but prevents them from moving backwards.
How fast do kangaroos run?
Kangaroos are unable to run, but they are excellent hoppers, a movement called saltation. The red kangaroos that live at the Sacramento Zoo can reach speeds of 35 mph, with their average hopping speed closer to 12 mph.
Did you know…
Kangaroos are the only mammals to switch from sweating to panting as soon as exercise stops. They are also the only ones with fine blood vessels very close to the surface of the skin of their forearms, which they lick for cooling!
Can kangaroos swim?
Kangaroos regularly swim in the wild. They will often cross rivers to avoid predators. Kangaroos swim by keeping their head above water and paddle with their legs. Their powerful tail propels them quickly through the water. Kangaroos can even use their front paws to drown pursuing predators.
Do kangaroos have a dominant hand?
Most kangaroos are left-handed, using that hand for grooming and eating about 95% of the time. Kangaroos often use their dominant hand for precision work and their right hand for strength.
Are red kangaroos endangered?
Red kangaroos are listed as least concern with a stable population on the UUNC Red List. They are abundant throughout their Australian range but are susceptible to habitat destruction and drought.
The Sacramento Zoo works with visitors of all ages to increase awareness for a need to protect habitats and ecosystems. Kangaroos are a keystone species in the Australian outback, which means they are critical in maintaining a healthy balance for the ecosystem. From their grazing, breeding habits, migration patterns, and behaviors, kangaroos are perfectly adapted for living with the other species in their environment. On your next zoo visit, take a moment to observe our kangaroos and emus in their enclosure. It’s a wonderful example of two keystone species living in balance with their ecosystem and each other.