How Do Kangaroos Survive The Aussie Outback?

Video highlights from Big Red: The Kangaroo King

The world’s largest marsupial has some clever ways of thriving in harsh conditions

Central Australia can be dry for weeks on end, and so water is a precious commodity. To help them survive, a Red Kangaroo has super kidneys that hold on to more water and for longer than any human.

They are made of 70% water, 10% more than humans, and this enables them survive extreme temperatures. They sweat only when moving, when they are resting they increase their breathing rate to 200 breaths a minute, reducing body temperature and cooling the brain.

Evaporation sucks the life out of everything, and so the Red Kangaroo has to become the master of his own thermal temperature. A dense cobweb of capillaries lies at the surface of their skin and is cooled down when they lick their forearms. But during the hottest months, even saliva becomes a precious resource.

Eight out of ten kangaroos will die during a drought, and since males need to eat more to sustain their large bodies, they constantly move in search of water holes and grass patches.

Even if severely malnourished, a Red Kangaroo can restore its health in a matter of weeks, which makes him the fighting underdog capable of bouncing back again and again.

To survive his habitat, the Red Kangaroo has to roll with the punches and shift gears. After months in the pouch, the juvenile Joey must venture outside, where hungry Wedge-tailed Eagles wait to find inexperienced kangaroos.

They must learn to live as part of a mob consisting of a hundred or so other kangaroos. The life skills a juvenile male learns in the next few months will decide his fate.

Big Red: The Kangaroo King premieres Sunday 6 September at 8.30pm on Nat Geo WILD

Discuss this article


Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
We use our own and third-party cookies to improve our services, personalise your advertising and remember your preferences. If you continue browsing, or click on the accept button on this banner, we understand that you accept the use of cookies on our website. For more information visit our Cookies Policy AcceptClose cookie policy overlay