Living with Kangaroos
Kangaroos are an appealing feature of the Australian bush. As urban areas grow, more people are coming into contact with these wild, powerful and unpredictable animals.
The Eastern Grey Kangaroo
The Eastern Grey Kangaroo (macropus giganteus) is a significant feature of the bushland of eastern Australia. It is often seen in locations where urban areas adjoin bushland. Because of its close proximity to people, it is important that people respect the Eastern Grey Kangaroo as a wild animal. Understanding the Eastern Grey Kangaroo and its habitat is the key to successfully living together with these animals.
Grey Kangaroos can grow as large as 2.3 metres from head to tail, and weigh up to 95 kilograms. Like all species of kangaroo, the Eastern Grey is a grazer feeding on grasses and herbs. They tend to rest during the day in shaded areas, moving out to feed from early dusk until mid morning. Eastern Grey Kangaroos breed all year round, with birth rates peaking in the summer months.
Rural and semi-urban areas provide ideal living conditions for the Eastern Grey Kangaroo. Lawns, pastures and dams are readily available food resources that encourage visitation by kangaroos. In addition, houses, other structures and garden trees providing shade encouraging kangaroos to venture into backyards.
Kangaroos are often portrayed in books, films and advertising as a friendly and cuddly Australian cultural icon. However, they are wild, unpredictable animals with considerable size and power. We can admire them, but we must remember that they act on instinct and are capable of injuring people.
The risk of being attacked by a kangaroo is extremely low. Several thousand people seek medical attention each year for injuries from domestic pets, while fewer than five people are treated for kangaroo related injuries. The greatest risk to people from kangaroos has been where their natural habitat and feeding patterns have been altered or changed.
Kangaroo attacks may occur where:
- Feeding or handling of kangaroos by people has led to the loss of their instinctive fear of humans
- A kangaroo sees a person as a sparring partner or threat to either themselves, their offspring or their dominance of the group
- There has been a change in kangaroo numbers, movements and group structure because of the removal of their natural predator, the Dingo, and the provision of dams, shelters and pasture providing new areas of habitat for kangaroos
- It may push or grapple with its forepaws or prop back on its tail and kick out with its hind legs. Injuries to humans can be very serious, so avoiding conflict with kangaroos is vital.
- Avoid areas where kangaroos are present
- Avoid situations where you may be seen as a threat to a kangaroo
Be careful with your behaviour:
- Do not walk directly towards a kangaroo
- Do not stand up tall, stare or hold your arms out towards a kangaroo
- Do not go near kangaroos engaged in courtship or mating behaviour (for example, Males sniffing, touching or escorting females)
- Do not go near male kangaroos that are sparring, fighting or showing off their size and strength to each other
- Do not go near a kangaroo that is growling or clucking
- Do not move between a female and her joey
- Do not allow your dog to approach a kangaroo ??? kangaroos will vigorously defend themselves against dogs, and this may draw you into a dangerous situation
If you feel threatened by a kangaroo, move well clear. Do not approach it. Try not to attract the kangaroo's attention, crouch down and keep your head and arms low. Wait until the kangaroo has moved away before continuing on your way. If you need to, carefully retreat in a crouched or crawling position away from the kangaroo to a safe location or distance away from the animal. If you can, position an object such as a tree or fence between you and the kangaroo and call for help.
If You Are Attacked
If you are attacked, drop to the ground and curl into a ball with your hands protecting your face and throat. Try to remain calm and still until the animal moves away, or if you can, keep low to the ground and move behind some form of cover. It is also very important to report incidents to your local authorities.
For injured animals contact the Wildlife Information and Rescue Service (WIRES).
Remember, kangaroos are protected animals and it is an offence to injure or kill them.