The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(true kangaroos and wallabies), a subfamily of marsupials. The body measures from 30 cm to 1.6 m long, and the tail from 30 cm to 1.1 m long. The weight ranges from 2 to 70 kg. There are 11 genera, which comprise approximately 40 species.

The Macropodinae are distributed in Australia, on the islands of New Guinea and Tasmania, and on the Bismarck Archipelago. Most of the species are terrestrial forms, inhabiting plains covered with thick, tall grasses and shrubs. Some species are adapted for climbing on trees, while others live in rocky places. The animals are crepuscular. They usually stay in groups and are very cautious. The animals are herbivorous, but some eat worms and insects.

The Macropodinae reproduce once a year. After a short gestation period (30–40 days), the female bears one or two incompletely developed young (in the great gray kangaroo the young is approximately 3 cm long), which she carries in her pouch for six to eight months. During its first months of life, the young is firmly attached by his mouth to a teat, and milk periodically squirts into his mouth.

The number of Macropodinae varies widely from species to species. The large species have been nearly wiped out, while some small species are quite numerous. In large concentrations, the Macropodinae can damage pasture land, and some species damage agricultural crops. Hunted commercially for their valuable hide and meat, they are also captured for zoos, where they reproduce well.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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