10 Incredible Facts About 袋鼠


袋鼠 near beach at sunset
袋鼠, wallaroos, and wallabies all belong to a family of marsupials known as macropods.


Few animals symbolize their continent quite like 袋鼠s, which serve as global icons for Australia. Yet despite their international fame, 袋鼠s are also commonly misunderstood, both at home and abroad.

In hopes of shedding more light on the complexity of these distinctive marsupials, here are just a few lesser-known facts about 袋鼠s.

1. 袋鼠 Are the Largest Marsupials on Earth

dominant male red 袋鼠 looking at the camera
A dominant male red 袋鼠 at Sturt Stony Desert. 杰米·塔里斯(Jami Tarris)/盖蒂图片社

袋鼠 are the largest marsupials alive today, led by the red 袋鼠可以站立超过5英尺(1.6米)高-加上3英尺(1 m)尾巴-重180磅(82公斤)。 Eastern gray 袋鼠s 甚至更高,有些成年雄性达到近7英尺(2.1米),但是他们'也更瘦,仅重120磅(54公斤)。


Matschie's tree 袋鼠 rests on a tree in New Guinea.
Matschie's tree 袋鼠 rests on a tree in New Guinea. 自然与自然基金会Tier Und Naturfotografie 

袋鼠 belong to the genus Macropus, which means "large foot." Other members of that genus include several smaller but similar-looking species known as wallabies or wallaroos. That distinction is a bit arbitrary, however, since the animals we call 袋鼠s are simply 巨猿属中较大的物种..该属的最小成员被称为小袋鼠,而中等大小的物种被称为小袋鼠。

术语"kangaroo"尽管有时它被广泛用于这些动物中的任何一个's generally reserved for the four largest species: red, eastern gray, western gray, and antilopine 袋鼠s. It's also used for tree 袋鼠s, which belong to a different genus but are members of the wider taxonomic family known as macropods, which includes 袋鼠s, wallaroos, wallabies, tree 袋鼠s, pademelons, and quokkas. Outside the macropod family, tiny marsupials called rat 袋鼠s also bear a resemblance to their much larger relatives.

3. Most 袋鼠 Are Left-Handed

人类和其他灵长类动物的表现"handedness," or the tendency to use one hand more naturally than the other. Scientists once thought this was a unique feature of primate evolution, but more recent research suggests handedness is also common in 袋鼠s.

Based on research with red 袋鼠s, eastern grays, and red-necked wallabies, researchers have found the animals are 主要是左撇子, using that hand for tasks such as grooming and eating about 95% of the time. Their hands also seem to be specialized for different types of work, with 袋鼠s typically using their left hand for precision and their right for strength. This challenges the idea that handedness is unique to primates, researchers say, noting it may be an adaptation to bipedalism.

4. A Group of 袋鼠 Is Called a Mob

A mob of eastern gray 袋鼠s standing in grass looking at the camera
A mob of eastern gray 袋鼠s survey their surroundings together. 约翰·卡内莫拉(John Carnemolla)/盖蒂图片社

袋鼠 travel and feed in groups known as mobs, troops, or herds. A 袋鼠 mob may include a handful or several dozen individuals, often with loose ties that allow shifting membership among mobs. Males may fight over females in mating season by kicking, boxing, or even biting, but the group tends to be dominated by its largest male. Male 袋鼠s are known as bucks, boomers, or jacks, while females are called does, flyers, or jills.

5. Some 袋鼠 Can Hop 25 Feet

Hopping is an energy-efficient way for 袋鼠s to move, helping them cover large distances in arid Australia as they search for food. They usually travel at moderate speeds, but they are capable of sprinting when necessary. A red 袋鼠 can hop at 35 mph (56 kph), leap about 6 feet (1.8 m) off the ground, and cover 25 feet (8 m) in a single bound.


When moving around smaller areas at a slower pace, 袋鼠s often incorporate their tail as a fifth leg. It may look awkward, but research on red 袋鼠s shows their big, muscular tails can provide as much propulsive force as their front and back legs combined.

When a 袋鼠 needs to move more than about 15 feet (5 meters), however, it usually skips the tail and starts hopping.

7. Joeys可以休眠直到小袋空置

袋鼠 mother with joey in her pouch
If a joey is still in the pouch of a pregnant 袋鼠, the younger sibling can enter a dormant state called embryonic diapause. 詹妮弗·史密斯/盖蒂图片社 

The gestation period for 袋鼠s is about five weeks, after which they usually give birth to a single baby, known as a joey. No larger than a grape, the newborn joey must use its forelimbs to crawl through its mother'将其皮囊放到她的小袋中,随着它的长大,它将在接下来的几个月中存活。

A female 袋鼠 可能在乔伊仍在袋中的情况下再次怀孕,在这种情况下,较小的乔伊进入休眠状态,直到袋空着。一旦大姐姐离开了小袋,母亲'身体发出荷尔蒙信号以恢复年轻的乔伊's development.


袋鼠唐't have a lot of natural predators in Australia, especially now that large carnivores like thylacines and marsupial lions are extinct. A few animals are known to prey on 袋鼠s, however, typically targeting joeys or adults from smaller species. These predators include dingoes as well as introduced species such as red foxes, dogs, and feral cats.

When a 袋鼠 does find itself pursued by a predator, it often flees toward water. This can just be an escape strategy, since 袋鼠s are surprisingly good swimmers (again, thanks to that massive tail). But in some cases, the prey might be leading its pursuer into a trap. Once a 袋鼠 is chest-deep in the water, it will sometimes turn around and confront the predator, grabbing it with its forelimbs and 试图淹死它


在澳大利亚本迪戈的沼泽鼠。 罗斯·贾丁(Ross Jardine)/ EyeEm /盖蒂图片社

Fighting back against predators may be less realistic for smaller 袋鼠s, and for other macropods like wallabies, wallaroos, and quokkas. In some cases, a mother macropod who'已知被捕食者追捕的人会将乔伊从她的小袋中掉下来并继续逃跑。

一项研究发现,被困在铁丝陷阱中的雌性短尾小鹦鹉在看到人类靠近时试图逃脱,在这种骚动中,他们的乔伊经常从袋子里掉下来。这可能在母亲期间无意间发生了'研究人员写道,逃脱尝试"考虑到女性美洲狮对小袋开口的肌肉控制能力……这似乎是一种行为反应,而非偶然。"(研究人员将这些小山羊还给了母亲' pouches.)

Other macropods have similar tendencies: Gray 袋鼠s sometimes expel their joeys when pursued by foxes, for example, and swamp wallabies do the same with dingoes.捕食者可能会停下来享用便餐,给母亲时间逃脱。研究人员认为,这听起来对人类来说是不可想象的,但对于某些大型脚类来说,这可能是一种适应性生存策略。袋鼠母亲的繁殖速度远比人类快,当一个成熟母亲的生命受到威胁时,牺牲一只乔伊可能是非常明智的,至少就其物种而言' standards.


A western gray 袋鼠 chews on grass.
A western gray 袋鼠 chews on grass. Lea Scaddan /盖蒂图片社

All 袋鼠s are herbivores, grazing mainly on grasses but also some moss, shrubs, and fungi. Similar to cattle and other ruminant animals, 袋鼠s sometimes regurgitate their food and chew it as cud before digesting it. This isn'但是,它们对于消化没有必要,而且它们只是偶尔进行一次-可能是因为这似乎使他们感到痛苦。

袋鼠' tube-shaped stomachs are very different from the four-chambered stomachs of ruminants. Cows infamously emit lots of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — as they breathe and burp, but despite similar diets, 袋鼠s only produce about 27% of the body mass-specific volume of methane that ruminants produce. Food moves more quickly through 袋鼠 stomachs, and research suggests 袋鼠s'肠道微生物的代谢状态要比沼气更适合生长或生物质生产。

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