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The animal kingdom is full of amazing animals, and marsupials are up there with some of the most marvelous mammals. Did you know there are three types of mammals?
Marsupials at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s Australian Adventure include koala, red kangaroos, western grey kangaroos, Bennett’s wallabies, wallaroos, and tree kangaroos. Here is a quick guide on our many magnificent marsupials.
Koalas with their fluffy ears and large, spoon-shaped nose, are instantly recognized as a symbol of Australia. They are adapted for living in the crooks of branches: they have a curved spine, reduced tail, and a rounded bottom. They only eat the tips of eucalyptus leaves - which makes them the most expensive animals to feed at the Zoo.
Red kangaroos are the largest mammal in Australia and the largest marsupial on Earth, weighing up to 200 pounds and reaching heights of over 6 feet tall. They are named for their dark red fur, though females are more of a bluish gray color. Red kangaroos can live on very little water and are commonly found in the grassy plains of inland Australia. The fastest jumping mammal, red kangaroos have been recorded at almost 35 miles per hour.
Western grey kangaroos are slightly smaller than their red cousins and need more water to survive. For this reason, they prefer woodland habitat over plains, and can be found grazing in open meadows at night. In addition to size, Western grey kangaroos can be distinguished from the other species of kangaroos by their finely haired muzzle.
Bennett’s wallabies can be most easily identified next to kangaroos by size: they are much smaller at around 36 inches tall and 30 to 40 pounds. The wallaby’s shorter stature and more compact legs give it dexterity in a forested habitat, whereas the larger kangaroos’ legs are built for covering open terrain.
Wallaroos fall between kangaroos and wallabies in size (makes sense, right?). They are slightly stockier than kangaroos and have coarser fur that is well adapted to rockier, mountainous habitat. Wallaroos have shorter limbs than other kangaroos and their hind feet are broad and rough for better grip.
Matschie’s tree kangaroos are easy to pick out among the others as the only tree-dwelling kangaroo. They are also the only kangaroos that can move their hind legs independently of each other and move backwards. These abilities, along with their long claws and strong limbs and tails make them great climbers who move quickly through the canopy. Tree kangaroos live only in New Guinea and get their reddish-brown color from tannins in the leaves that they eat.
Next time you're in Australian Adventure, see if you can ID all the majestic marsupials.