As you observe a mob of kangaroos lazing under the shade of a large gum tree or quietly grazing in a field, you wouldn’t imagine that these placid looking animals could pose a threat. But, are kangaroos dangerous?
While these large grazing marsupials may look perfectly harmless, you have to remember that they are wild animals and are perfectly capable of defending themselves if they perceive a threat to their mob or their young. Nature has equipped kangaroos with long powerful claws, strong hind legs and massively powerful tails.
In saying that, kangaroos are mostly docile animals and just want to be left in peace to graze and raise their young. However, let’s look at situations where kangaroos can pose a threat and how to avoid any possible confrontations.
Each Mob Has One Dominant Male
As we understand, kangaroos tend to live in large groups known as mobs. Each mob contains a number of adult males and a larger number of breeding females. However, there is always just one dominant male in that group that will breed with all the females in his mob.
This male kangaroo will watch over the mob and keep a look out for any females that are ready to breed. He will chase away any other adult males if these get too close to a fertile female. For the same reason, if a human was to get too close, the dominant male would use his prowess to attempt to scare the person away because he views the human as just another large animal.
This is especially prevalent in spring time when it’s primary mating season. However, eastern grey kangaroos have the ability to breed throughout the year, so it’s important to keep this in mind. It’s never wise to approach a large male kangaroo who does have the ability to do some serious damage and even kill a human if he feels threatened.
How A Kangaroo May Defend Itself
Kangaroos are equipped with some powerful defence mechanism that they will use if they feel threatened. Most commonly, kangaroos will use:
- Their powerful front legs to lash out. These legs have very, long sharp claws that have the capacity to do major damage to either a human or another animal. There have been incidences where a male kangaroo was able to pick up a large dog with its front legs. Without human intervention, the kangaroo would have easily been able to kill the dog by using its powerful claws.
- Their strong back legs to kick out. Kangaroos have very strong and powerful hind legs that they use for hopping and standing on. If a person or other animal was to receive a kick from one of these legs, it could easily result in broken bones or even more serious damage.
It’s Not Only Male Kangaroos Who Can Be On The Defensive
While the dominant male kangaroo will defend his mob, female kangaroos with joeys will also use everything within their power to keep their young safe. This is especially the case once the joey is old enough to leave the pouch for periods of time during the day.
It’s especially important to never ever get between a female kangaroo and her young. She will use the same defences as a male kangaroo to protect her joey if she considers you a threat.
Kangaroos Are Also A Danger To Drivers
The most common incidents related to kangaroos posing a threat to humans is road accidents. These accidents occur frequently in rural and regional areas especially around dusk, as this is when kangaroos are most active.
At this time of the day, visibility can be quite poor and it can be common for kangaroos to jump onto the road in front of a car. Often, in these cases, it’s too late for the driver to avoid a collision and the results can be very damaging.
When you consider the strength, size, and weight of a kangaroo and then envision the power of an impact with a car traveling at speed, you can only imagine the enormous damage that can occur.
Kangaroos And Dogs
In general, a kangaroo will not attack a dog normally. However, if the kangaroo feels threatened, it will defend itself. One common way that a kangaroo will eliminate the threat of a dog is to lead the perceived predator to a dam or other water hole.
The roo will then stand in the water and if the dog swims out to it, the roo will use its powerful claws and its body weight to drown the dog.
When there is no water nearby, a kangaroo can easily pick up even a large dog in its front legs and then inflict fatal injuries with the large claws on its back legs.
How To Spot The Warning Signs Of An Aggressive Kangaroo
When a kangaroo perceives a possible threat, it will use various methods to try and scare the offender away and to show its might. These include:
- Growling or clucking
- Walking slowly on all fours with its back arched
- Standing fully erect by balancing on it tail and hind legs
If you’ve come close to a kangaroo that is exhibiting any of these signs, the best thing you can do is to move slowly backwards and try to put a barrier between you and the animal such as a tree or fence. It’s advisable to never turn your back on an aggressive kangaroo and certainly never to try and run away. It’s also suggested that you give a short and deep cough as this indicates to the kangaroo that you acknowledge its dominance.
Although kangaroos are fairly harmless grazing animals, they can become dangerous if they feel there is a threat to their mob or their young. They are well equipped to defend themselves both against humans and other animals if the need arises.
Therefore, it’s always wise to observe a mob of kangaroos from a distance and never to get too close.