Is It True That Kangaroos Can’t Hop Backwards?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 05/27/2024

Reading time: 3 mins

You may have heard that kangaroos can’t go backwards, but is it true?

The simple answer is yes. Kangaroos can’t hop backwards. In fact, they can’t even walk backwards. This is mainly because of the massive tail that keeps the critters from moving in reverse. If a kangaroo needs to move backwards, it will simply turn around.

Other kangaroo facts

Now that this fact has been clarified, let’s explore some more interesting facts about kangaroos!   

  • Kangaroos are the tallest marsupial

Marsupials are mammals that meet a certain set of criteria. This criteria includes a short gestation period and the use of pouches. Some marsupials you may recognize are wombats, koalas, quokkas and Tasmanian devils.

Marsupials range in size, but none are as large as the kangaroo. Kangaroos are the tallest marsupial with some species measuring over six feet tall in height.

  • Baby kangaroos are extremely tiny at birth

You may be surprised to learn that when a kangaroo is born, it is usually the size of a jellybean. How does such a tiny creature stay safe and grow? It spends time in its mother’s pouch.

Baby kangaroos, or joeys, will grow and feed while in the pouch. As they get bigger, they will take short trips out of the pouch until they are strong enough to fully leave the pouch.

  • There isn’t just one species of kangaroo

In fact, there are over 60 different species of kangaroos. Some types include the red kangaroo, the musky rat kangaroo, and the western grey kangaroo.

Red kangaroos are found mostly in the central mainland of Australia. Western grey kangaroos can be found in South Australia all the way up to Queensland. Meanwhile the musky rat kangaroo lives in the rainforests of Queensland.

These are just a few examples, but there are many more species found all across the country!

  • Their tails are quite powerful

Kangaroos use their tails like another leg. Their tails are so muscular that they can hold a kangaroo’s entire weight. This often happens when kangaroos ‘box’ or kick each other.

  • How far can a kangaroo jump?

We all know that kangaroos can jump impressive lengths since that is how they get around. However, many people don’t realise just how far a kangaroo can actually jump. A large jump can cover about eight meters, which is equivalent to ten human steps!

About Kangaroo Island kangaroos

As mentioned before, there are many different species of kangaroos. One of these species lives on Kangaroo Island. So what sets these kangaroos apart?

The kangaroos on Kangaroo Island have a few defining features. They are the only species found on Kangaroo Island and are recognised by their smaller size. They also have dark brown fur that is thicker compared to other species. You may notice that they move a bit slower and are quite chill due to a lack of predators and other dangers.

Head over to Kangaroo Island on your next adventure and see if you notice these differences between the species!

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.