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Kangaroo – the most famous marsupials, which represent the entire squad marsupials generally. Nevertheless, the vast family of kangaroo, numbering about 50 species, stands out in this squad and keeps a lot of secrets.
Outwardly, of kangaroos like no any animal: they remind deer head, neck medium in length, in front of the torso is slim, and the rear expanding limbs raznovelikie – relatively small front and rear very long and powerful tail thick and long. Front feet with five digits, have well-developed fingers and look more like the palm primates than in the dog’s paw. Nevertheless fingers end quite large claws.
Hind legs have only four fingers (thumb is reduced), the second and third toes are fused. The body of a kangaroo is covered with short, dense coat, which protects the animals from heat and cold. Painting of most types of patronizing – gray, red, brown, some species may have white streaks. Dimensions kangaroo vary within very wide limits: the biggest red kangaroo reach a height of 1.5 meters and weigh up to 85-90 kg, while the smallest species have a length of 30 cm and weigh 1-1.5 kg! All kinds of kangaroos in size conventionally divided into three groups: Macropus called three largest species of kangaroos are called wallabies medium-sized and very small species – rat-kangaroos or kangaroo rat.
Habitat kangaroo covers Australia and adjacent islands – Tasmania, New Guinea, in addition kangaroo acclimatized to New Zealand. Among the kangaroo found in both species with broad habitat that live across the continent, as well as endemic, found only in a limited area (for example, in New Guinea). Habitat of these animals is very diverse: most of the species inhabits woodlands, grassy plains and desert, but there are those who dwell in the mountains …!
It turns out the kangaroo among the rocks – a common sight, for example, mountain views wallaby can climb to the level of snow.
But the most unusual tree kangaroo, which live in the dense forests. On the branches of trees, they spend most of their lives and very cleverly climb in the crowns, and sometimes jump the trunks of short hops. Given that the tail and hind legs have not tenacious, such balancing is amazing.
All kinds of kangaroos move on their hind legs, while grazing, they keep the body horizontally and can draw its front paws on the ground, while alternately pushing both back and front. In all other cases, they keep the body upright. Interestingly, kangaroos are not able to move the legs consecutively, as do the other two-legged animals (birds, primates) and repelled from the ground at the same time with both paws. For this reason, they can not move backwards. Actually walking these animals is unknown, they are moving only jumps and is very energy-intensive way to travel! On the one hand kangaroos have a phenomenal jumping ability and are capable of jumping several times the length of the body, on the other hand they spend on such a movement a lot of energy, so not very hardy. Good pace of large species of kangaroo kept no more than 10 minutes. However, this time is enough to hide from enemies, because in the long jump the biggest red kangaroo can reach 9 and even 12 meters and speed of 50 km / h! At the height of the red kangaroos can jump to a height of 2 m.
In other types of modest achievement, but in any case, kangaroos are the fastest animals in their habitat. The secret of this dynamism lies not so much in the clutches of the powerful muscles, but in the … tail. The tail is very effective balancer during a jump and a fulcrum when sitting, leaning on the tail, these animals are unloaded muscles of the hindquarters.
Kangaroo – herd animals and stay in groups of 10-30 individuals, with the exception of the smallest rat kangaroos and wallabies mountain, which dwell alone. Small species are active only at night, large can be active during the day, but still prefer to feed at night. In a herd of kangaroos is no clear hierarchy and all social networks have not developed. This behavior is caused by a common primitive marsupials and the weak development of the cerebral cortex. Their interaction is limited to tracking of fellows – as soon as one animal is an alarm, the others started up their heels. Voice kangaroo like a hoarse cough, but hearing them very sensitive, so relatively quiet scream they heard from afar. Kangaroos do not have homes, except for rat kangaroos that live in burrows.
Eat kangaroo plant food, which can chew twice, belching of the digested food and chewing it again, like ruminants. Stomach kangaroo has a complex structure and is inhabited by bacteria that facilitate the digestion of food. Most species feed exclusively on grass by eating it in large quantities. Wood kangaroos feed on the leaves and fruit trees (including ferns and vines), and the smallest kangaroo rat may specialize in eating the fruit, bulbs and even frozen juice plants, in addition, they may include in their diet of insects. This brings them to other marsupials – Possum. Drink little and kangaroos can do without water for a long time, moisture content of plants.
Kangaroos do not have a specific breeding season, reproductive processes but they occur very rapidly. In fact, the female body is a “factory” for the production of their own kind. Excited males arrange fights, during which they mate paws and hit back strongly to each other in the stomach. In this struggle the tail plays an important role, which is based fighting literally as the fifth leg.
Pregnancy in these animals is very short, so that the females of gray giant kangaroos hatching baby just 38-40 days in smaller species, this period is even shorter. In fact, kangaroos give birth to immature embryos, 1-2 cm long (for the largest species). It is surprising that such a premature embryo has complicated instincts, allowing it yourself (!) To get to the mother’s handbag. The female makes him licking track in wool, but creeps embryo without any help! To appreciate the scale of this phenomenon, imagine that human children have been born after 1-2 months after conception and have found their own mother’s breast blindly. Climbing in the kangaroo mother bag long sticks to one of the nipples and holding a bag bezvylazno the first 1-2 months.
At this time the female is ready to mate. While senior kangaroo grows Jr. is born. Thus in the bag two female cubs of different ages may be at the same time. Growing up, baby begins to peek out of the bag, and then climbs out of her. However, even a long time after the baby is quite independent at the slightest danger climbs into the mother’s pouch. Bag kangaroo formed a very elastic skin, so it can severely stretch and withstand a lot of weight the grown offspring. Even further went kangaroo Quokka, who is conceived of two embryos, one of which is developed, and the second is not. If the first baby is killed, the other immediately begins to develop, so Quokka not spend time re-pairing. However, the larger kangaroos are also cases of twins and triplets. The life expectancy of these animals 10-15 years.
In nature, the kangaroo a lot of enemies. Earlier on large animals hunted dingo and Thylacine (now exterminated), on small – marsupial martens, birds of prey, snakes. After delivery to Australia and nearby islands of European predators in their natural enemies joined foxes and cats. If the smaller species are vulnerable to predators, the large kangaroo can stand up for themselves. Usually, in case of danger, they prefer to flee, but the hunted animal can suddenly turn to the pursuer and the “embrace” of his front paws, inflicting powerful blows back. Regular dog back leg kick can kill a man cause serious injury. In addition, there are cases where the kangaroo escaped into the waters and drowned the pursuing dogs in the water.
Predators – not the only problem kangaroo. Great harm they cause food rivals, people imported: rabbits, sheep, cows. They deprive kangaroo natural food, which is why many species were driven in dry desert areas. Small species are not able to migrate long distances, so simply disappear under the onslaught of aliens. In turn, people see kangaroos like their competitors and undesirable neighbors, so hunt them in all possible ways. Earlier kangaroos hunted for their meat and skins, but now they just shoot, poison dogs or put traps. Australia is a major global supplier of kangaroo meat. However, its taste inferior to meat of livestock, so it is used in the production of canned food for the same dogs or exotic ingredient restaurant kitchen.
The combined effect of all the adverse factors is great, especially vulnerable small kangaroo species, most of which are on the verge of destruction. Large species adapted to live close to the people and they can often be seen on the outskirts of cities, rural farms, golf courses, parks. Kangaroo quickly become accustomed to the presence of people around them behave calmly, but do not tolerate familiarity: attempts to pet and feed the animals can cause aggression. But we must understand that this reaction is caused by an instinct to protect the territory. The zoo kangaroo more affectionate service personnel and are not dangerous. They are well acclimatized and breed in captivity, and attract many visitors. At the emu kangaroo adorns the coat of arms of Australia and symbolizes eternal movement forward (because they can not walk backwards).