Nature Stuff

Can kangaroos swim?

When I asked a bunch of people at random, most people said they didn’t think kangaroos could swim. ‘Not with those little arms,’ was the usual response. Well, it turns out that kangaroos can swim. And surprisingly well, too.

Swimming kangaroo

The photo below is all real. It shows a big male Eastern Grey Kangaroo swimming in water about 20 feet deep.

It plunged into the dam and swam at an impressive speed. In fact, you can see the bow wave he’s making. It turns out that kangaroos are powerful swimmers when they need to be.

Swimming kangaroo very wet kangaroo

Soon after swimming the length of that dam, it climbed onto dry land (getting up the steep, slippery banks appeared to be much more challenging for the creature than swimming) and then it took off. The next (smaller) image shows one very drenched roo leaving the scene at full speed. If you look carefully you can see a lot of water falling off it.

Kangaroos use their powerful back legs when they swim, not in a jumping movement but more of a dog-paddle movement. We shouldn’t be so quick to assume that their forelimbs lack any strength or usefulness either. In the next photo you can get a better look at another male Eastern Grey Kangaroo and those forelimbs are anything but puny. They can even use them to hold another creature under water if it feels threatened or challenged by it.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

You’d swear this guy had been lifting weights but these proportions aren’t unusual for a mature male Eastern Grey. And to put this into perspective, decent-sized Eastern Grey Kangaroo males can stand more than 6 feet tall. The female roos though, are smaller and lack the muscle size of the mature males.

A bit more trivia

I’ve been talking about male and female kangaroos. Well, a male kangaroo is called a buck and a female is a doe. A young kangaroo’s called a joey and a group of them is called a mob.

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