Tuesday, 10 March 2009


I should be in bed, I was until a while ago. I am upset and angry about something/someone so I got back up and came in here to the puter.
I made a post this morning and since I got a few comments on it I thought I would go back to it and talk a bit more about what I know about Kangaroos. We call 'em Roos for short.
Kangaroos are very cute and soft. Their fur feels wonderful and if you sniff your fingers after patting one of them they smell a bit like milky coffee. That is what the smell reminds me of anyway.
There are quite a few different types, the main ones being the eastern greys and red kangaroos. The common, and might I also add prolific, Roos found in this area and most of the eastern area of Australia are the eastern greys. The eastern greys have slightly longer and less dense fur that the reds, then there is the colour difference. Some others are the western Euro,a very tough customer, but shy, and able to live for long periods without a drink in the desert, and from the tropical area of Queensland and new Guinea, the Tree Kangaroo. We even have a tiny related kangaroo who lives in the desert called a kangaroo rat. Then there is the cute Bilby, he is related too, from Western Australia. We have tried to replace the easter bunny with the Bilby, (they are about the same size) because rabbits are very unpopular here and are very destructive feral animals. Maybe my husband is a rabbit. There are also smaller kangaroo type critters known a wallabies. There are lots of different types of these smaller versions of Roo and some of these are very rare and endangered. God...this isn't going very well it sounds like a fourth class school project that some kid just made up doesn't it. O.K.I will try harder. My husband is an arsehole. An ongoing annoyance that is bugging me at the moment. Insensitive plick. That is all I am telling you about it at the moment!
Kangaroos can be aggressive and are well equipped to protect themselves by several means.
If threatened by Dingos and they can't out run them, ( dingos are australia's version of the native dog), or by hunting dogs they are quite capable of fighting with the dogs and killing them by either disemboweling them or by drowning them. To disembowel them they hold on to them with their front paws and rest back to balance against their strong tails then kick forwards gouging at the dogs stomach with their strong back legs and big back claws. They can do this to humans too. When I was a teenager I remember being at a park one day and feeding a group of Roos when a large male became very competitive over the food and got aggressive with me and tried to kick me like that. I turned side ways and got a bit of bruising on my thigh but was otherwise unhurt. Now I know the signs to watch out for and if a big Roo starts to look aggressive I know to get out of the way and keep my distance. Those warning signs they put up "Don't feed the animals" are there for a reason and not just for the animals protection ( eating or depending on human food is not good for them), for your protection too. We were allowed to be feeding those ones at the park though, they even sold us the proper pelleted food. They sort of stand up and lean back and eye you off and then stretch up to their full height and puff their chest out at you. Then you move it quick, back off or pay the price.
The other way a scared or angry Roo might defend itself is to jump into a dam or creek. When it is followed or attacked it grabs its attacker with its front paws again and holds it under the water until it drowns. Many a hunting dog has found its end by this method. If a female kangaroo has a baby in its pouch it will throw out the baby into some bushes or behind a rock to hide it and keep running ahead of its attackers. This has the double effect of getting the baby out of harms way and secondly giving the mother being pursued a better chance of escape as it has less weight to carry and is able to go faster. She will come back for her baby joey after things settle down.
There is an excellent series about Kangaroos on DVD at ABC shops called "Faces in the Mob". I think it was filmed in Kosciusko national park or somewhere like that. Anyway, it shows the lives and relationships of a mob of Kangaroos. I was surprised to learn from it that Kangaroos have quite a well developed and complicated social structure amongst the mob. With a social hierarchy and fighting going on between males for leadership, and therefore over who gets to breed with the females. Males even kill off the joeys sired by the last leader, so the females come into season again and can breed with the new leader.
Baby Kangaroos are tiny and mostly undeveloped at birth. They look like and are about the size of a naked baked bean and after birth must find their way through the mothers fur and into her pouch where they attach themselves to a teat and finish their development. Mummy Roos can be permanently pregnant with one joey in her pouch and more fertile unborn babies waiting for their turn, kept in suspended animation.They can also delay the birth of their joeys until they get a favourable season with lots of feed and enough water before they allow the joey's development to continue.Pretty smart eh! They are very successful breeders. Probably better at predicting the coming season than your long range weather forecaster too.They usually have one baby at a time, although twins are not unheard of I think they are pretty rare.
You can also get albino kangaroos. They are very beautiful and have red eyes, I have seen a few in parks but they don't survive in the wild as they have no camoflague protection I guess.
There are lots of Kangaroos around Canberra. Lots dead on the side of the roads. They are very dangerous on the roads and are startled when in headlights and are likely to jump in front of you in any direction. If they break the windscreen when you hit them they have been known to get inside the car with you still driving, kicking and panicking, not good! No understanding of traffic or road sense. I had one hopping along in front of my car one day, down the middle of the road near Gundagai and I even though I slowed down and missed hitting it, it had taken fright and was doing over 30kph, it was not a big animal either, so the big ones would probably be able to go faster. I don't know what speed they can get up to.
When the Junee fires were on, they found lots of Roos trapped and overtaken by the fire in the corners of paddocks, piled high, burned to death. Horrible. There were lots left burned and injured that had to be shot and euthanized too, then many others starved because there was no feed for them in the burnt areas, which covered a huge area. I guess that the fires in Victoria would have had the same effect on the wild life there. The Victorian fires have been much larger and faster travelling than the Junee fires I talk about.
Kangaroos, like all animals I guess, have been exploited for what they can be used by from humans. They have been slaughtered for sport, for fur, by farmers who see them as a threat to their pastures and competing for fodder that their livestock need, even though they are reported as eating a different part of the grass to what the livestock eat. By the media as poor old Skippy in the children's T.V. show. Now kangaroo meat has become fashionable and is available in trendy restaurants and even in supermarkets. It is supposed to be low cholesterol and healthy. But I don't think I could come at that. Eating the Australian coat of arms does not appeal to me. I don't think I have ever tried it and have no compulsion to. Well.. um... one day at a restaurant I tried a dish that included Emu bacon in it, but that is another story, it was very nice . Emus are the other half of the Aussie coat of arms.
Anyway back to Skippy. I am sure everyone has seen or heard of Skippy the bush Kangaroo, it was a show that lots of my age group grew up watching. It is made fun of by comedians nowadays, because it was bloody ridiculous, but we lapped it up and believed in it. I even had a girlie childhood crush on many of its actors. It did have some conservation value in its day though I suppose. When I was in my teens and living in Sydney we went on a bus trip for a school excursion to Kurringai national park where it was filmed.We had a look at the film set and different animals that were there on display etc. In one tiny cage in the middle of the yard was the animal that they said was Skippy. She was in a tiny tiny cage that she was barely able to turn around in and she was absolutely miserable, no shade, no water, no food. This poor bloody little kangaroo exposed to the poking fingers and oohs and ahhs of a bus full of school kids unable to move away. It was so horrible. By the way do you remember the noise that Skippy used to make on the show, supposedly to communicate with the actors. A clicking tsk tsk tsk noise. That is the noise a kangaroo makes when it is in distress. The Skippy in the cage was doing that. I will never forget that poor thing.
It is now 2.00 I really should try to go to bed and sleep but I know I won't be able to. I am sure my dear husband is sleeping gleefully with no troubles on his mind. He was always good at that. After all he has to work tomorrow, why should he loose any sleep? Ah I am being a nasty, neurotic, brat tonight. It would be o.k if he was the only one who had to go to work tomorrow...but he isn't.
Love Linda.


Beth said...

Good morning, Linda. I enjoyed your ramblings about kangaroos from an Australian point of view. To me, they're exotic, not easy to understand. Your descriptions make them more accessible, rather like the bears I've observed here in the Pacific Northwest. I hope all else is well with you and yours. Keep writing!

Shadow said...

aaah, thank you for that, i loved reading your 'school project', heee heee heee. the light jumping thing reminds me of the time i lived in south west africa (now namibia) as a kid, and since cars didn't have air con's then, we used to travel at night to avoid the heat, and there the kudu's (all buck actually) do the same and i know how dangerous that can be. i hope you feel calmer and better today and that the man has finally come around to your way of thinking, heee heee heee.