Western Gray Kangaroo

Western Gray Kangaroo



COMMON NAME: Western gray kangaroo
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Diprotodontia
FAMILY: Macropodidae
GENUS SPECIES: Macropus (big foot) fuliginosus


DESCRIPTION: These large, muscular animals are grayish-brown to reddish-brown with a small head, large ears, and a long thick tail used for balance. It also has short forearms, strong hind legs, and long broad back feet for hopping and standing upright.
FEMALE The females have a pouch used to carry the baby
SIZE: Approximately 2 m (6.6 ft) long head to tail; 6-7 ft (180-210 cm) in height
MALE About 54 kg (121.5 lbs)
FEMALE About 28 kg (63 lbs)
DIET: Includes grass and shrubs
GESTATION: Gestation lasts approximately 31 days; usually one joey (offspring) is born after a gestation period of only 31 days. The joey climbs from the birth canal to the pouch in three minutes. It leaves pouch at 8½ months and is independent at 10 months.
NURSING DURATION After leaving the pouch, the joey continues to nurse for another 6 months.
SEXUAL MATURITY: Approximately 2-3 years
LIFE SPAN: 9-13 years
RANGE: Southern Australia
HABITAT: Inhabits grasslands near water and with a nearby forest or woodland
STATUS: IUCN Species not listed; subspecies M. f. fulginosuslisted as Lower Risk/near threatened
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed


1. In their native country of Australia, western grey kangaroo females are known as does or fliers, the males as boomers or stinkers due to their strong, curry-like smell, and the young as joeys. Kangaroos live in groups called mobs.
2. These kangaroos are the most vocal of the three large kangaroo species. The mothers communicate to the joeys with a series of clicks. When defensive, they will growl like a dog.
3. The western greys have very close social bonds, keeping family connections for years. A daughter often stays close to her mother even after she has a joey of her own.
4. Young kangaroos sometimes box playfully to pass the time. Adult males box to determine dominance, with the strongest male becoming the head of the mob.
5. While running at speeds of about 12 mph, these kangaroos are able to reach 35 mph in short bursts.


Since the late 18th century, human settlement has drastically changed kangaroo numbers and distribution. Loss of many grassland areas from grazing domestic cattle and introduced species such as rabbits, mean negative effects on native Australian species such as kangaroos.

Before European settlement, native Aboriginal peoples utilized the kangaroos for meat and hide.

While many species have decreases in number due to human population and introduction of predators such as the red fox and domestic cats and dos, some species' populations have actually risen, causing kangaroos in some areas to be considered pests. Farmers concerned about damage to fences and crops often cull them under license in some areas.


Macdonald, David. Editor. 1984. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol. 2. George Allen and Unwin, London.

Strahan, Ronald. 1983. The Australian Museum Complete Book of Australian Mammal. Angus and Robertson Pub., London.

Australia Department of Conservation and Land Management. http://www.calm.wa.gov.au/plants_animals/mammal_kangaroo.html