Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Diprotodontia (meaning two front teeth)
Family: Macropodidae (large footed)

Kangaroos are a familiar sight around Australia particularly in the bush and semi urban areas.  Kangaroos are generally regarded as the larger of the species of macropods (meaning large footed) marsupials. They include the largest native mammal in Australia; the Red Kangaroo. The smaller species tend to be called wallabies.

Being such a common animal in Australia it is used in a variety of cultural and symbolic ways. In particular the kangaroo is part of the Australian Government Coat of Arms.


A kangaroo or wallaby is a mammal unique to Australia. image: R.Conan-Davies


Kangaroos generally cannot sweat to cool down. But sometimes they will lick their forearms which have blood vessels close to the skin, the saliva will then evaporate and cool the blood in the forearm. They also spend a lot of time lying under trees to avoid high temperatures. Kangaroos can be quite aggressive at times when asserting dominance and engage in Kangaroo fighting behaviour.


Forelimb blood flow and saliva spreading in the thermoregulation of the red kangaroo, Megaleia rufa