Taxonomically, a kangaroo is a member of the Macropodidae family, which has over 47 species to its credit. Most of us usually associate kangaroos with their home, Australia and their unique locomotion. However, there is a lot more to know about the species ... like their diet, for instance. Did you know that some species of kangaroos are omnivores? Or that some of them can go without water for months?
What do Kangaroos Eat in the Wild?
The diet of terrestrial kangaroos primarily comprises green vegetation. Both, red kangaroos and eastern gray kangaroos are true herbivores and feed on grasses, ground cover plants, leaves, etc. While the eastern gray kangaroo is adapted for grazing grass, the red kangaroo feasts on grass and young, succulent buds of shrubs. They rest in shade during the daytime to avoid exposure to scorching heat and feed either in the early morning or late afternoon, when the environmental temperature drops down to comfortable range. This helps them minimize loss of water from the body.
They do drink water, but can go without it for a long period, as they have the ability to derive required water from the grasses and vegetation that they feed on. In fact, the red kangaroo can live without water for as long as 2 - 3 months, which is quite helpful for the species, considering that its habitat falls in xeric region.
According to the availability of food, the diet of red kangaroo and tree kangaroo differ slightly. They belong to different genera and differ in size (the red kangaroo being the larger of the two species). Needless to say, the tree kangaroo has greater accessibility to tree foliage and fruits. Hence, it prefers to feed on tree leaves, flowers, bark, grains, and fruits. Also, it is omnivorous in nature and thus, consumes eggs of other animals and birds as well.
As for baby kangaroos or joeys, they remain in the mother's pouch for about two months. During the postnatal period, in which they are in the pouch, they derive nourishment from their mother's milk.
What About Their Diet in Captivity?
Like their counterparts in the wild, even farm kangaroos are herbivorous in nature. However, they are fed a broad range of foods, including carrots, corn, grains, young shoots of plants, and other vegetables in captivity. Some animal keepers even introduce bread and other nutritious foods in their diet. The formulated food for kangaroo is pretty similar to the dry version of vegetarian dog food.
Like cattle and other grazing animals, kangaroos have the ability to regurgitate already swallowed food and chew it for better digestion. In fact, they are adapted to low-nutritious, fiber-rich diet. The beneficial bacteria in the digestive system of kangaroos doesn't just help them digest food particles, but also reduces the production of methane.