What′s the difference between a wallaby and a kangaroo? | Global Ideas | DW | 21.01.2015

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Global Ideas

What's the difference between a wallaby and a kangaroo?

They are both indigenous to Australia, both bounce and are both marsupials, which mean they carry their young, known as joeys, in their in-built pouches. But that is pretty much where the similarities end.

Austrailien Känguru

Ready to bounce. Kangaroos can move at incredible speeds on flat terrain.

If you had to identify a wallaby in a lineup that otherwise consisted of kangaroos, it would probably prove relatively easy. The most striking difference is their size. While a kangaroo can reach a towering two meters, their more petite relatives range from between 30 cm to just one meter. Their heights are reflected on the scales, with roos weighing in at up to 91 kilos. Wallabies, by comparison, manage a modest maximum of just 24.

A baby wallaby with its mother

Wallabies are significantly smaller than kangaroos

Vital statistics aside, another way to tell the two apart is to look at their hind legs. In the case of the kangaroo, they are designed for running fast on flat ground, so the knees and ankles are set wide apart. The wallaby, however, has to move with great agility through dense forest areas, and is therefore equipped with compact legs.

And if that is not enough, their coats also vary. The kangaroo is usually either reddish brown or gray, while the dainty wallaby has a glossier sheen and can be red, gray, fawn, brown, black or white.

Overall their difference outweigh their similarities. But what about the wallaroo? Read our species of the week for more…

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