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Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Eastern Grey Kangaroo
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Subclass:Marsupialia
Order:Diprotodontia
Family:Macropodidae
Genus:Macropus
Species:giganteus
Binomial name
Macropus giganteus
Southern and eastern Australia support a population of several million Eastern Grey Kangaroos. The scientific name, Macropus giganteus is misleading, as while a big Eastern Grey male weighs around 66 kg and stands almost 2m tall, the Red Kangaroo of the semi-arid inland is bigger still.

Eastern Greys are easy to recognise: their soft grey coat is distinctive, and they are usually found in moister, more fertile areas than the Red. Alternative names for the species include Great Grey Kangaroo and Forester.

Although the Red is better known by reputation, the Eastern Grey is the species most commonly seen in the flesh: few Australians visit the arid interior of the continent, while many live in and around the major cities of the south and east coast, from where it is usually only a short drive to the remaining pockets of near-city bushland where roos can be found without much dificulty. They prefer open grassland with areas of bush for daytime shelter. Like all kangaroos, they are mainly nocturnal and crepuscular, and are mostly seen early in the morning, or as the light starts to fade in the evening.

In more remote areas, Eastern Greys occur in great numbers and if left unchecked reach plague proportions. From time to time shooters are employed to reduce their numbers, almost always to the accompaniment of a public outcry. Given the very limited amount of fodder in dry years, however, the only other choice is starvation.


Eastern Grey Kangaroo.

It is often said that kangaroo populations have increased significantly since the European colonisation of Australia because of the increased areas of grassland (as opposed to forest), the reduction in Dingo numbers, and the availability of artificial water. At least so far as Eastern Greys are concerned, the scientific evidence suggests otherwise: the current population is to be measured in tens of millions, but the estimated pre-European population is thought to have been closer to hundreds of millions.

While Eastern Greys remain common, there are vast areas of country from which they have been exterminated (in general, they avoid humans), and most of the more fertile districts now carry crops or exotic pasture grasses which kangaroos tend not to eat. (One of the easiest ways to find kangaroos is to look for patches of remnant native grassland.)

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