Eastern Grey Kangaroo

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Eastern Grey Kangaroo
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Macropodidae
Genus: Macropus
Species: M. giganteus
Binomial name
Macropus giganteus
Shaw, 1790

The Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) is a marsupial that lives in south and east Australia, including Tasmania.[2] It is also called the Great Grey Kangaroo and the Forester Kangaroo. An Eastern Grey male weighs about 66 kg (145 lb.) and is almost 2 m (6 ft.) tall. Its scientific name, Macropus giganteus means gigantic (huge) large-foot, and the Eastern Grey is the second biggest marsupial on earth.[3] The Red Kangaroo is the largest.

History[change | edit source]

Indigenous Australian names for the Eastern Grey include iyirrbir and kucha.[4] The Eastern Grey kangaroo was first seen by Europens when Captain James Cook was fixing his ship near Cooktown, Queensland. He took a specimen back to England.[5] The Eastern Grey is also the kangaroo on the Australian Coat of Arms. Captain John Hunter, later Governor of New South Wales painted a watercolour in 1788, of the Eastern Grey which was published in his book, "Birds and Flowers of New South Wales, painted on the spot in 1788, 1789 and 1790".[6] This painting can be seen online here.

Description[change | edit source]

The Eastern Grey has a soft grey, or sometimes brown fur. The fur on the chest and stomach is more pale, sometimes white. They have a small head and large ears. Their tails are about 120 cm (47 in) long.[7] The male is much larger than the female. They have long eye lashes which protect their eyes from the sun.[8] They live for around 15–20 years. Because they are marsupials, the female carries its young in special pouch. Babies are born about five weeks after mating. The tiny baby which is only about 15 millimetres long, and weighs less than one gram, crawls up into the pouch. Inside the pouch there are four nipples. The baby kangaroo, called a joey, will only use one of the nipples. It lives in the pouch for about eight months.[9] It still drinks milk from its mother until about 18 months of age.[5] The mother is able to have another joey in the pouch, which feeds from a different nipple. The mother provides a different mix of milk to each nipple.[8] A joey can remain with its mother until it becomes an adult, at about four years old.[8]

Where it lives[change | edit source]

The Eastern Grey is the species most commonly seen in Australia. It lives near the big cities of the south and east coast. It likes open grassland with areas of bush for daytime shelter. Like all kangaroos, it is mainly a nocturnal animal, and it is crepuscular, which means it is active early in the morning, and early in the evening. They live in large groups of up to 100 kangaroos, called "mobs'.[8]

What it eats[change | edit source]

The Eastern Grey is a herbivore, which means it grass and small shrubs.[9] It mainly eats during early morning and evening. They do not need to drink water as they can get enough moisture from the plants that they eat.[8]

Speed[change | edit source]

The Eastern Grey Kangaroo can travel very fast over land. They can jump up to 9 m (30 ft) in a single leap.[7] The fastest recorded speed of any kangaroo was 64 kilometres per hour (40 miles per hour) set by a large female Eastern Grey Kangaroo.[10] Kangaroos use less energy if they travel faster.[7] When they go slowly they walk on all four legs, and use their tail as well.

Numbers[change | edit source]

Eastern Grey in grassland

It is often said[11][12] that kangaroo numbers have increased since the Europen settlement of Australia. There are more areas of grassland and less forest, less dingos, and more man made watering holes.[13] The current population of the species is about two million.[7] Because of this the Eastern Grey has been killed in some parts of Australia to stop them from eating all the grass and then dying from starvation.[11][12][14]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Munny, P., Menkhorst, P. & Winter, J. (2008). Macropus giganteus. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2008. Retrieved on 28 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  2. Groves, Colin (16 November 2005). Wilson, D. E., and Reeder, D. M. (eds). ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd edition ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 64. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3.
  3. "Australian Wildlife » Eastern Grey Kangaroo". www.byronbaywildlifetours.com. http://www.byronbaywildlifetours.com/australian-wildlife/eastern-grey-kangaroo.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  4. Hamilton, Philip. "Eastern grey kangaroo, Macropus giganteus". Oykangand and Olkola Dictionary. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/2970/kangaroo.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-03.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Museum Victoria: Eastern Grey Kangaroo". museumvictoria.com.au. http://museumvictoria.com.au/DiscoveryCentre/Infosheets/Eastern-Grey-Kangaroo/. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  6. "Eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) [picture / [John Hunter]"]. catalogue.nla.gov.au. http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/2672744. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "BBC - Science & Nature - Wildfacts - Eastern grey kangaroo". www.bbc.co.uk. http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/673.shtml. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 "Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus), Billabong Sanctuary, Townsville". www.billabongsanctuary.com.au. http://www.billabongsanctuary.com.au/aussie_animals/eastern_grey_roo.html. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Australia Zoo - Our Animals - Mammals - Kangaroos - Eastern Grey Kangaroo". www.australiazoo.com.au. http://www.australiazoo.com.au/our-animals/amazing-animals/mammals/?mammal=kangaroos&animal=eastern_grey_kangaroo. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  10. The Guiness Book of World Records. 2004. pp. 53.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Kangaroo culling begins at Australian site - World environment- msnbc.com". www.msnbc.msn.com. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24706458/. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "BBC News". news.bbc.co.uk. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/1834061.stm. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  13. "Parks & Wildlife Service - Forester (Eastern grey) kangaroo". www.parks.tas.gov.au. http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=4851. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  14. "5000 roos dead amid Defence 'inaction' - Local News - News - General - The Canberra Times". canberratimes.com.au. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/5000-roos-dead-amid-defence-inaction/1446661.aspx. Retrieved 2009-04-02.