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Wallabies and Kangaroos: Macropodidae - Physical Characteristics

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Kangaroos and wallabies are marsupial mammals, meaning that they do not produce a well-developed placenta like many familiar mammals. A placenta is an organ that grows inside the mother's uterus (womb) during pregnancy and allows the developing baby to share the mother's food and oxygen. Marsupial mammals are born underdeveloped and they finish developing inside their mother's pouch.

Kangaroos and wallabies are some of the best known Australian marsupials. They have four legs, although their front legs are much smaller and weaker than their large back legs. They usually have long tails and large ears that are either pointed or rounded. They have a head and body length that varies in size from 11 to 91 inches (28 to 231 centimeters), and a tail that ranges in length from 6 to 43 inches (15 to 109 centimeters). They weigh between 3 and 187 pounds (1 to 85 kilograms). In some species the males are much larger than the females. Kangaroos and wallabies have fur that ranges in color from reddish orange to black.

Kangaroos and wallabies have very long, large, strong back feet that allow them to hop at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour (55 kilometers per hour). They have four toes on each of their front and back feet, and the second and third toes on their back feet are fused (attached) together. All of their toes have strong claws.

Wallabies and Kangaroos: Macropodidae - Behavior And Reproduction [next]

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