The Burning Question: What Do Kangaroos Eat?

The Burning Question What Do Kangaroos EatIf you are looking for a single word answer to the question “what do kangaroos eat”, you are not going to get one. Each species of kangaroo lives in a different part of Australia and therefore eats a different food.

It is important to note that all kangaroos are herbivores and do not eat meat. They survive primarily on grasses and other plant life that they can reach. In certain circumstances, they have been known to eat insects as well. Essentially, they are Australia’s version of the white tailed deer we have here in The United States.

To give you a better answer to the burning questions of “what do Kangaroos eat”, we will break it down by species. These are the four most popular species of kangaroo, all of which are found in Australia.

4 Most Popular Kangaroo Species

The Red Kangaroo

The Red Kangaroo checking us outThis champion jumped is the most common Kangaroo species on the island of Australia. They are the largest marsupial species still alive on earth. They can be found everywhere throughout western and central Australia. Areas with dense growth can attract large groups on these animals, up to 1,500 in some cases.

Because of the arid conditions, they need to be very proficient eaters to survive. This species eats the greenest plant life it can find so that they can absorb the water out of what they eat. Their Kidneys are also designed to make use of all the water it can during the summer.

To get back to the question of what do kangaroos eat, red kangaroos diet consists mostly of grass. They will eat shrubs and all other kinds of plant life if they need to, but will prefer grass almost every time. A recent study showed that a red Kangaroo’s diet consists of 75-90% grass.

The Eastern Grey Kangaroo

The Eastern Grey’s are the second largest species of Kangaroo, and therefore is the second largest marsupial surviving today. As you may have guessed, they live on the eastern half of Australia. These are the most commonly seen kangaroos because they live in the buffer zone between the major population of Australia and the inner arid environment.

When it comes down to the question of what do eastern grey kangaroo’s eat, the answer is primarily grass. They are foragers and will follow the grass wherever it may be and stay away from shrubs and other tougher plants if possible. Areas with abundant grass can support up to 100 eastern grey kangaroo’s per square kilometer.

The Western Grey Kangaroo

Western grey kangaroos are very comparable to the eastern greys that we talked about already. They grow to be a little bit bigger but have different markings on their face. They can be found all along the southern coast of Australia.

Just like their eastern cousins, they survive primarily on grasses. If they are in a pinch, they will add some shrubs into their diet.

Antilopine

Grey Kangaroo looking for something to eatAntilopine Kangaroos, sometimes referred to as the antilopian wallaroo, is a cousin to bother grey kangaroo species. The only difference is that they live in the northern parts of Australia where it is much more humid. To adapt to these conditions, they grow much larger nostrils than other kangaroos to allow them to exhaust heat much more efficiently.

The name comes from the antelope like fur that they produce. If you only cause a glimpse of one of these in the woods, you would think it was an antelope if you didn’t know better.

To get back to our burning question of what do kangaroos eat, this species mainly eats grass as well. They live in a more humid climate were grass is much more common, so they have all the grass they can eat.

More Information

Kangaroos digest food much like a cow in that they can swallow it and bring it up later to chew.  The acids in their stomach is designed to digest highly fibrous foods, like the grass and shrubs that they prefer.

Most kangaroos get their daily water supplement through the plants that they eat.  They have been knows to go months between chances to drink some water.  The little that they absorb from the plants in enough to keep them hydrated for weeks if it needs to.

It is also important to note that kangaroos are nocturnal eaters.  Like most noctornal animals, they have adapted into eating at night when predators are sleeping.  They will eat as much as they can at night and then rest and chew cud most of the day.  For this reason, it is best to spot a kangaroo just after dawn or just before dusk.

What Eats Kangaroos?

Now that we have answered the burning question of what do kangaroos eat, lets move on to what eats kangaroos.  Kangaroos are very large animals, so they do not have many predators.  This has led to the influx of kangaroos in Australia to the point were locals consider them a nuisance.

The most common predator that they need to watch out for are dingos.  Dingos are local dogs that are believed to be semi-domesticate dogs that were brought over by the aboriginals and let loose.  They are now very common and can take down a full grown kangaroo if they can catch them.

Tasmanian Devils have traditionally been a major predator for kangaroos until recently.  An infectious facial tumor disease has put a large dent in the Tasmanian devil population, so they are not longer a large threat.

Foxes and eagles have been known to target Joey’s, but are not large enough to prey upon full grown kangaroos.