The trouble with Kangaroos

Whenever I see scenes like the one in the photograph below, that I took at Sawpit Creek in September this year, it puts me on edge.

Don't let your kids get this close

Kangaroos can seem to be so benign.  Let’s face it, they look so cute and harmless.  For the most part that is the case, but I know from personal experience that things can change very quickly and with absolutely no warning that all. 

As you can see in this next photograph the kangaroo is holding the little girl’s hand in place as she feeds it so she wouldn’t go away and it wouldn’t let her go until all the food was gone.

Don't let your kids do this

The kangaroos in the photographs with the girls are immature Eastern Grey Kangaroos (Macropus giganteus). A fully grown male grey kangaroo can grow up to about 6 feet tall. Red kangaroos (Macropus rufus) can grow over 6 feet tall and the largest of the kangaroos.

I had an experience up in Queensland at the Currumban Wildlife Sanctuary, with a smallish immature grey kangaroo years ago. It was just sitting in a field and I walked up to it and it made no movement as I came closer.  When I was within about a metre (about yard) of it, it reached out to me with its paws.  So I reached out my hand and touched it on the paw, to which it just raised its paw and touched me back on the hand.  This little exchange repeated itself several times until without warning the kangaroo leant forward to place its paws on the ground, bringing its back feet forward to come closer to me. It then leaned back on its tail and, BANG!!! It kicked me full force, fair and square right in the chest.

There was no warning.

No change of facial expression.

No growling.

No bearing of teeth.

I couldn’t believe with how much force it hit me, and it wasn’t even a fully grown kangaroo, but it had knocked me back about a metre.  To make matters even more disconcerting it leaned forward again to drag itself forward and leant back on its tail to wallop me again, BANG!!! I backed up another step, to which it just followed up with another kick to the chest, BANG!!!

Again, without warning.  

As I backed up another step I was starting to get a bit concerned as I couldn’t tell when the kangaroo was going to stop kicking me. Once again, the kangaroo dragged itself forward to wallop me again, BANG!!!

It was starting to get beyond a joke and I was starting to think I was going to have to punch it out. I took another step back and readied myself to get kicked again, but the kangaroo just went back to eating.  So, I can most assuredly inform you, dear reader, that those cute fluffy little kangaroos can turn on you without any warning at all. I was lucky because I was an adult and the kangaroo was a small one.

I think the reason why I was kicked, was because kangaroos spar a little with their arms before they get stuck in with their back legs and the kangaroo that attacked me may have thought I was going to fight it, so it got the first shot in.

I’ve met other people who’ve told me stories that didn’t end so well as mine.

Some friends told me recently about a couple they had met up in Queensland. The guy was an older Englishman and he had a Thai wife, and they’d been complaining to my friends that they had not seen any live kangaroos. They went on to say that all the kangaroos they ever saw were road-kill by the side of the road.  My friends thought that they would have a bit of sport with these foreigners, so they told them that they weren’t dead kangaroos by the side of the road, but kangaroos that were asleep. These friends of mine then told me that at a few days later, they saw the couple again and they were covered in deep lacerations. When they saw the state of the foreigners, they asked them what had happened to which they were told that they had been driving along a dirt road out in the middle of nowhere when they saw a kangaroo lying by the side of the road. The husband thought it was dead and told his wife not to worry about it but she insisted on him stopping the car and getting out to investigate.  Apparently, she picked up a stick as she came closer to the kangaroo and poked it to see if it was alive. Quick as a flash, the kangaroo was up and grabbed a hold of her with it’s upper arms and leant back on it’s tail and started trying to disembowel her with it’s back legs. The husband ran to help to help his wife, and the kangaroo gave him a kicking as well. They were pretty unlucky as it’s very hard to sneak up on a kangaroo.

Here’s a video to show how unpredicable kangaroos can be.

[youtube 8B66gFbN3sg]

In area where kangaroos are hunted you can’t get anywhere near them.

Usually kangaroos in groups are known as mobs. A mob of grey kangaroos can be up to about 30 individuals. Usually, the females and the young eat in a group surrounded by males that usually lay on the grass and keep an eye out for predators. 

Another time in Queensland, I was out taking photographs in a field near the Glasshouse Mountains, when I unexpectedly came across a large mob of grey kangaroos. I had just walked up the river bank over a small rise, and suddenly I was within about 3 m (about 9 feet) of a very large male lying in the grass. It didn’t get up but it turned around to look at me right in the eyes and then it flexed it’s muscles in it’s upper body (to illustrate what happened I’ll show you two photos that I took last weekend). 

I've seen this behaviour before and I know it sometimes leads to tears

As it flexed a few other males bounded a little bit closer to me and started flexing their upper bodies as well.

Let this be a warning

It was as though I had been sized up, and they knew they could take me.  They certainly weren’t scared of me, and after the experience that I had before with a small kangaroo; I wasn’t going to take any chances, so I beat a hasty retreat.

Just in case you think you’re “well ‘ard”, and that kangaroos aren’t a threat you can’t handle, check out this video.

[youtube xVq7Mo6LY-A]

As the video shows, kangaroos have plenty of heart and won’t back down so easily.