The Boxing Kangaroo

Male kangaroos “boxing” with each other.
Joey sticking its head out of its pouch.
Kangaroo crossing sign.
Joey returning to its mother.
The silhouettes of a kangaroo mob.

The kangaroo is one of Australia’s most recognized symbols. It is so emblematic of Australia, in fact, that it has prestigiously been imprinted on several of the country’s coins. Still, rather than looking in your wallet, the best chance of seeing a kangaroo is in the Australian outback. Here, in the hot semi-arid landscape, kangaroos live in mobs of anything from a few individuals to over a hundred ‘roos, feeding on grass or a mixture of grass and shrubs.

Continuing on the topic of kangaroo behavior, when it comes to reproduction, female kangaroos become pregnant often, and after birth carry their newborns in their pouches. Males, to the contrary, are absent parents who leave immediately after the mating session. Their preoccupation is asserting their own position in the mob.

The fighting begins

In order to assert themselves in a mob, male kangaroos have to fight. To learn how to fight, for this purpose, male joeys spar with their mothers and later with other males. Ultimately, once the kangaroos have grown big enough, the toughest males in a mob will square up against each other, with the final winner becoming mob leader. The mob leader, then, aside from other leader responsibilities, has mating rights with all of the mob’s adult females, a prerogative that can be considered the biggest perk of being top kangaroo.

When two kangaroos battle it out for a leadership position — once they have grown big and learned how to really fight — it looks somewhat like a kick-boxing bout. The duelists, similarly to human fighters, stand upright on two feet, jab with their front legs and jump kick with their powerful hind legs. Headlocks, furthermore, are also used, and on occasion, one or both combatants fall to the ground. This heavy fighting could easily result in broken bones or internal injuries, but it is a price male kangaroos are predisposed to accept.

A peaceful animal

Apart from the occasional male frays, which indeed are both spectacular and dangerous, kangaroos are peaceful animals. Unless they are searching for food and water, the majestic herbivores usually just stand quietly around, minding their own business. In normal circumstances they present no threat to humans, although ‘roos crossing trafficked roads can lead to accidents. To make drivers aware of the risk for collisions with kangaroos, kangaroo crossing signs have been put up along roads in kangaroo habitats throughout Australia.