Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kangaroos and Wallabies

We have both in our area and both come to 'visit' us around the house most mornings and late afternoons.
What is the difference?
Not much it seems. Wallabies are always smaller and have a different colouring. While kangaroos are much the same colour all over eg, grey or red, wallabies have a more distinct colouring pattern with ours being dark brown with a yellowish tinge around the belly to the neck. They are swamp wallabies. Our kangaroos are eastern greys.
Kangaroos prefer open to lightly forested country, while wallabies prefer the thicker bushland and even swampy areas.

On the coastal strip near us eg. the Bawley Point area, there are hundreds (thousands?) of kangaroos. They live among the houses and graze on the lawns and sporting ovals, in the camping grounds, in the rural properties and along the side of the road. They are even on the beach.
Some are quite big and can reach 2m (6ft) or more high. Females with babies (joeys) can be aggressive as can the males. It pays not to get too close to the bigger ones. They have very big claws on their hind feet which can do a lot of 'damage' if they strike out.
My neighbour up the back has a mob of about ten living on her property. Two of the bucks are huge!

Ours are small however and seem to have gotten quite used to us. They are not too timid and are happy to let us come within 10m or so before hopping off to a safer distance. One has just ejected her joey from her pouch. The young one seems to be enjoying the freedom, racing around the place at breakneck speed while the bemused mother looks on.
Their downside is they love to eat new grapevine shoots. This is the main reason I have permanently netted my vines. They also can be a menace on the road especially at night. Hitting a big one at speed can do great damage to a car and even the driver.
And for the trivia buff, the word 'kangaroo' is probably a derivation from the Guugu Yimidhirr Endeavour River area (North Queensland) Aborigine language, 'gaNurru' which means "large black kangaroo."

The anglicized version was first used by Captain James Cook and botanist Joseph Banks in 1770, after their first contact with the native Australian population when they were repairing their ship "Endeavour' after running it aground on the Great Barrier Reef in that area during the first white exploration of the east coast.

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