What Do Kangaroos Eat? (Complete Guide and Helpful Answers)

What Do Kangaroos Eat

With those large and powerful feet, the formidable tail, and all that avid hopping, a kangaroo is an exciting fellow, no doubt. But amidst your awe for the largest marsupials on our planet, you must have asked, “what really do kangaroos eat?”

As herbivores, kangaroos mainly eat a diet of grasses, flowers, leaves, ferns, and moss, but they might also eat insects occasionally. Kangaroos, similar to sheep and cattle, have chambered stomachs. This means they regurgitate their food, chew it again, and then swallow it for digestion.

Of course, I know you want something more adept about Kangaroo’s dietary regimen. You want to know what plants it can eat and which it can’t. Stick around as I answer each of these exciting questions.

Kangaroo Diet Basics (Herbivorous Diet)

Kangaroos are strict herbivores, meaning they only eat plant materials.

Kangaroos have chambered stomachs with a specialized digestive system to help them break down and extract nutrients from fibrous plant materials:

  • The kangaroo’s stomach, which is small in proportion, acidifies the food they eat.
  • In kangaroos, an enlarged sac-like part of the stomach called the forestomach, enables microbial fermentation of plant matter.
  • A complex large intestine further digests plant fibers.

This digestive system gives them the ability to absorb nutrients from grasses and vegetation that other herbivores would find difficult to digest.

The herbivorous diet impacts kangaroo behavior:

  • Kangaroos spend much of their active time grazing and browsing for plants. Their front legs are well-adapted for digging plants from the soil.
  • Kangaroos regurgitate and re-chew partly digested plant matter to further break it down – known as “mastication”.
  • Compared to carnivores, kangaroos need to spend long periods fermenting and digesting their food.

What Plants Do Kangaroos Eat?

When it comes to plants, kangaroos are not very picky. Kangaroos feed on a broad spectrum of plants, cutting through roses, bedding plants, fruit trees, and even as far as hardy native plants that you would naturally dismiss as unpalatable for them. Tree-dwelling kangaroos even go as far as eating the sap and bark of trees.

What Plants Don’t Kangaroos Eat?

Kangaroos are rarely attracted to feeding on native Australian plants. Also, kangaroos are not much attracted to prickly shrubs – with such relative distaste applying to the aromatic variants.

Local gardeners have also reported kangaroos being turned off by oily plants or foliage with notable fragrance. Consequently, kangaroos may not be drawn to plant like snake bush, red pokers, bracelet honey myrtle, Burrundong Beauty, Reeves Pink.

Take note that in increasingly arid conditions – typical of winter or late summer months – kangaroos eat some of these plants they otherwise find unattractive.

What Type of Grass Do Kangaroos Eat?

Kangaroos love green grass. Such affection for green grass can be traced to their relative ease of digestion compared to other forages. Kangaroos are attracted to grasses like Bluegrass, tall fescue, white clover, perennial rye, kangaroo grass, Rhodes, Kikuyu, and Paspalum.

Do Kangaroos Eat Meat?

While kangaroos are primarily herbivorous, the tree-living species have been known to demonstrate omnivorous leanings. They enhance their plant-based diet with occasional meals of bird eggs and bugs.

Can You Feed Kangaroos Bread?

Bread is not toxic to kangaroos. It is not uncommon to find kangaroos in captivity being fed bread. However, bear in mind that doesn’t bread offer substantial nutritional nourishment to kangaroos.

Bread – and baked foods generally – should be fed in minimal quantities to kangaroos. Excessive ingestion of soft food by a kangaroo can result in a lumpy jaw. The latter is a bacterial jaw infection that can end up devastating for the Kangaroo.

What Do Baby Kangaroos Eat?

What Do Baby Kangaroos Eat

Naturally, young kangaroos, typically called joey feed, on their mother’s milk. Averagely, a joey would feed on its mother’s milk for nine months, moving on to solid foods as it mature, gains teeth, and its exploratory curiosity increases.

Should the natural mother’s milk be absent, joeys can still be fed customized formulation of fluids. The most popular formulations include the likes of Biolac Marsupial milk. They contain impressive rations of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and lipids – as befitting for the baby kangaroo.

To better adapt such alternative feeding formula to mirror the mother’s nipples, you can use feed the joey this formulation with a rubber teat. This should be preferably thin and long, like the mother’s nipples. Never make the mistake of feeding baby kangaroos cow milk.

What Do Kangaroos Eat in Captivity?

Mature kangaroos in captivity can be fed with a combo of pellets and alfalfa hay. This can be further spruced with fruits, dandelion leaves, and veggies like grapes, broccoli, lettuce, and carrots.

What Do Kangaroos Eat in the Wild?

A kangaroo in the wild is a versatile eater. There are variations in the eating patterns of kangaroos in the wild as you move from one habitat (or species) to another, especially in Australia.

Take, for example, the Eastern Grey Kangaroo. Those in the woodlands make do with fungi and shrubs. The diet changes for wild Eastern Greys living in the coastal regions of Australia with more forest density. The latter Eastern Greys eat broadly, ranging from fallen fruits, flowers, seeds, barks, and even barks.

The Western Grey Kangaroo prefers a meal of plants, constricting its diet to leaves, herbs, and predominantly grass. Few kangaroos boast the resilience of the Western Grey when it comes to ingesting plant toxins.

The Red Kangaroo is an avid lover of green grass. Specifically, 75-95% of its foods is derived from green grass. Lastly, we have the Antilopine Kangaroo. This guy has a unique penchant for shorter grass and forages on them for the bulk of the day.

How Much Do Kangaroos Eat a Day?

Typically, kangaroos eat 1%-2% of their overall body weight. This is not definitive as their food intake could vary depending on factors like their physical state (juvenile, ill, pregnant, and lactating), their activity level, and even seasonality.

Given the relatively increased nutritional demands of juvenile kangaroos, they should be fed at least one and half the ration you averagely feed an adult kangaroo with similar size as the juvenile.

For lactating kangaroos, they have higher nutritional needs. You should feed them anywhere from twice to thrice the food you feed an average kangaroo (not breastfeeding any joey) of similar body weight in the summer. When winter comes, feeding the lactating Kangaroo five times its non-lactating equivalent.

How Many Times Do Kangaroos Eat a Day?

Kangaroos are vigorous eaters. The larger fraction of their active time (typically between dawn and dusk) is spent on sourcing food or eating. The Western Kangaroo spends anywhere from six to ten hours a day eating.

What is a Kangaroo’s Favorite Food?

Admittedly, it could be a bit difficult to precisely pinpoint one food as a kangaroo’s favorite, given the extensiveness of their diet. That said, Kangaroos have a relish for leaves, moss, fruits, and flowers.

What Human Food Can Kangaroos Eat?

Kangaroos will eat human food if that is what is available, given their strong survival instincts. That said, human food should be fed as minimally to kangaroos as such foods deteriorate their health.

The Kangaroo’s digestive system is better adapted to vegetation which it readily processes. On the other hand, human foods don’t fall into this spectrum, especially processed foods like chocolate, McDonald’s, and fruit juice.

Their digestive system struggles to process this, often leading to internal complications and, in extreme cases, death. There is also the psychological component of feeding Kangaroos human foods.

Kangaroos in zoos being fed human foods outside their natural diet like chips, biscuits, and bananas have been reported to develop strong cravings for such foods, often resulting in aggression when seeking those foods from the human feeder.

Kangaroos have been reported to claw, scratch, and even in one case, inflicted a deep gash in a tourist’s stomach when seeking such foods.

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