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The Western Grey Kangaroo

The Western Grey Kangaroo, Macropus fuliginosus, is a different species from the Eastern Grey Kangaroo.  Although they have some similarities, there are also important differences.

Kangaroo Island

When I was at school, there was a picture in one of our books showing kangaroos on Kangaroo Island as if in the field of a telescope.  The caption said that this is what Captain Mathew Flinders of the Royal Navy ship HMS Investigator saw.  The implication was that this was why Captain Flinders named the place Kangaroo Island.

Later, reading in much more detail about the epic voyage of the Investigator, I found that the account had been bowdlerised to make it more suitable for children.

In those days; near the beginning of the nineteenth century, fresh food was in constant short supply on long voyages.  Captain Flinders sent a party ashore on the Island to try to obtain fresh meat.  They successfully killed a number of Kangaroos.  This was why the Captain called the place Kangaroo Island. (Kangaroo Meat is an excellent Human food.) 

Kangaroo Island is still home to large numbers of Kangaroos as well as many other native species.

A good place to see these animals is Flinders Chase National Park at the Western end of the Island.

Range

The Western Grey Kangaroo ranges across much of the southern and western parts of the Australian continent.  In places they are in competition with the Eastern Grey Kangaroo as well as the Red Kangaroo.  But the Western species has different food preferences. The two do not appear to interbreed under natural conditions but hybrids are possibvle in captivity.
There are two sub species of this kangaroo. The first on collected and named  was Macropus fuliginosus fuliginosus. This subspecies is confined to Kangaroo Island. The ones on the mainland are Macropus fuliginosus melanops.

Diet

Most Kangaroos are predominately grazing animals, but the Western Grey Kangaroo is largely a browser, eating shrubs and trees.  They have a longer forearm than the other Kangaroos and can reach up and pull down branches to their mouth to eat the leaves before releasing the branch.

This is believed to be similar to the behaviour of some of Australia’s extinct mega fauna.

These animals tend to avoid high tannin leaves like those of Eucalypts, preferring things like acacias.  Of course they will certainly eat some Eucalypt leaves.  They will also eat grass like most Kangaroos, but this is not their main food.

Crop Damage

This animal has the reputation among some farmers for eating their crops, but this reputation is mostly undeserved. 

Human Interaction

This animal does not necessarily avoid Human habitation.  They will sometimes jump the garden fence to graze on the lawn and Browse the Roses.

If cardboard boxes are left out they will also eat these.




 
Western Grey Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus). Victoria Department of Environment and Primary Industries, 2012. Used under Create Commons License, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/.
 
 
 
Distribution of the Western Grey Kangaroo.