Kangaroos are distinctive creatures, easily identified by their long feet and hind legs that act as powerful propellers for hopping. Native to Australia, there are dozens of species around the country, living in a variety of habitats. The three most common Australian kangaroos are the eastern grey kangaroo, the western grey kangaroo and the red kangaroo.
Eastern Grey Kangaroo
This woolly grey-brown guy prefers to live in the eastern third of the continent. He's pretty versatile and can live in a variety of habitats, ranging from open grasslands and woodlands to high mountain forests. He has definite ideas of what he likes to eat, favoring young green grasses high in protein. Dry grass is difficult for the eastern grey kangaroo to digest, so he prefers to call denser forests and scrubs home.
Western Grey Kangaroo
One of the largest of the kangaroo species, the western grey kangaroo resides in the western and lower half of Australia. His color can vary, from grey-brown to red-brown to chocolate-brown. This kangaroo likes to be in open grasslands with close proximity to water and forest or woodlands. He eats a lot of grass as well as heath plants, and is better suited to an arid environment than his eastern cousin.
Another large guy, the red kangaroo is located in inner Australia and the desert areas. Once in a while this species will be in or around tropical forests, but they tend to prefer drier locales. Like the grey kangaroos, red kangaroos eat a lot of grasses and other vegetation. Like the western grey kangaroos, most of their hydration needs are met by their diet, so being near a water source isn't so important.
Of the many varieties of kangaroos in Australia, some species of tree kangaroos are in danger of becoming extinct, such as the Wondiwoi tree kangaroo. The tree kangaroo's habitat is limited and tends to be in the northern part of Australia, taking up residence in trees. His unusual housing means his diet is different from the larger kangaroos who feed on grasses; tree kangaroos eat mostly leaves and fruit, as well as flowers, eggs, bark and grain. A shrinking habitat -- to logging as well as coffee, wheat and rice production -- and threat of hunting have played a large part in the tree kangaroo's shrinking numbers.
- Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Kangaroos
- Australian Wildlife: Kangaroos
- NSW Government: Environment and Heritage: Kangaroos and Wallabies
- Australia Zoo: Mammals - Kangaroos
- Australian Museum: Eastern Grey Kangaroo
- World Association of Zoos and Aquariums: Western Grey Kangaroo
- The Animal Spot Australia: Red Kangaroo
- World Wildlife Fund: Tree Kangaroo
- Conservation Volunteers: Wild Futures - Tree Kangaroo
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images