Kangaroos may look cute, act docile, and are portrayed in the media as one of Australia's cuddly mascots, but underneath that placid demeanour is a surprisingly dangerous animal that can seriously wound you if they feel threatened.

So to prevent any potential injury and to help people understand that kangaroos are definitely NOT pets or a friend, we're going to take a look into why they're dangerous and tips on how to stay safe around them.

Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.


What are kangaroos?

You know what kangaroos are. They're those springy, hoppy animals with big feet and an even bigger tail native to Australia that hold young joeys in pouches on their bellies.

Alright, why are kangaroos dangerous?

Now the first thing to understand is that kangaroo attacks are rare - and fatalities are even rarer - as roos are essentially peace-loving herbivores who like to chill out and mind their own business. That being said, it's not unheard of for a kangaroo to get aggressive.

Kangaroos have sharp claws that can cause deep cuts, and they will use their massive hind legs to dish out powerful kicks that can cause serious bruising and internal injuries. With a lifespan of around 20 years and male kangaroos able to grow to over two metres tall and weigh over 90 kilograms, these animals have more than enough strength and size to be dangerous to humans.

While a kangaroo's first response usually is to flee from human interaction, it will resort to attacking if it feels threatened, is provoked, or if it sees a human as a sparring partner. Our natural vertical standing posture may also be viewed as a threat by kangaroos and they may lash out in self-defence if approached, especially from male kangaroos as they may view our vertical standing posture as a "challenge".

Yikes, what can I do to stay safe when around kangaroos?

The big issue with human and kangaroo interactions is that humans deliberately feed them. This causes kangaroos to rapidly habituate to humans and lose their natural fear of us, which in turn leads to attacks on people when there's no longer any food.

Human/kangaroo interactions are generally okay in a zoo as that's a controlled environment with professionals around and the kangaroos there were raised in captivity. However, it becomes an issue in the wild as wild kangaroos are unpredictable and there's no predicting what may happen if approached.

So next time you see a kangaroo in the wild, there are a number of things you can do to prevent any possible attack or danger:

  • Never provide food or water.

    • Providing food makes kangaroos dependent on the humans and increases the risk of aggressive behaviour when it is no longer provided.

  • Keep your distance.

    • Give them as much space as possible.

  • Manage your personal safety and avoid risks.

    • Don’t shoo the roo.

    • Don’t go near kangaroos engaged in courtship/mating.

    • Don’t go near males who are sparring/fighting.

    • Don’t go near one that is growling/clucking.

    • Don’t move between a female and her joey.

  • Recognise warning signs of aggressive and dominant behaviour. A dominant male shows this by:

    • Walking slowly on all fours with its back arched to intimidate other males.

    • Rubbing its chest from side-to-side on the ground.

    • Grabbing onto grass tussocks and low shrubs with its forelimbs and rubbing its chest over them

    • Standing erect by propping itself up on its tail and hindfeet, and urinating.

    • Fighting and sparring.

As for ways to deter kangaroos from coming onto your property - which can happen - you can:

  • Limit the amount of food and water available.

  • Mow your lawn regularly to deter kangaroos from grazing.

  • Use appropriate fencing about a metre and a half high with a gate.

  • Motion activated jet sprinklers, security lights, and blood and bone fertilisers as repellants.

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Information sourced from: The Conversation, NSW Office of Environment & Heritage and QLD Department of Environment and Science

Image credit: Alan McIntosh at Flickr

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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