Have you ever seen kangaroos mating?
You might feel like a weirdo searching “kangaroos mating” online, but admit it – if it was happening in front of you, you would be fascinated.
I am, and I see it all the time.
One of the greatest things about Eastern Grey Kangaroos is that they have no precise breeding season. They can breed all year and several times a year. It makes them interesting animals to watch.
Near Melbourne, Eastern Grey Kangaroos live in mobs of 10 to 100 females, and each female has a different reproductive cycle. So breeding males are busy.
This is not Wham Bam Thankyou Ma’am. The male spends days courting a female before he gets satisfaction.
The male kangaroo checks his females regularly to ascertain their readiness. He’s like a cross between a pimp and a gynacologist. Except he keeps her for himself, and violently repulses other males.
A male kangaroo can tell by smell what stage of her breeding cycle she’s at. As she nears ovulation, he stays with her, guarding her from other males.
For a few days male and female kangaroo just graze together. He can be quite affectionate and attentive. Then at the right time he starts stroking the tip of her tail with his hands. This is Step 1 of the pre-mating/courting ritual. She usually hops off at first, he follows and repeats the tail-stroking manoeuvre.
Tail stroking progresses up the tail, getting closer to the base. It wouldn’t be considered subtle among humans, but in animals this is the height of finesse. Watch this video:
Things are getting serious when the female allows him to stroke her back. This is Step 2. By this time he is usually salivating (not subtle!!) and erect.
A kangaroo’s penis is usually tucked away inside his body in a purse-like structure. It only comes out when its needed. It is not double-headed, like most marsupials, but long, tapered and pointed and waves about ‘searching’ for the vagina.
We’ve had hilarious conversations on tours:
Guest: “Oooh look! This one has a joey, I can see its tail poking out of the pouch.”
Guide: “No, that’s a male and that’s NOT a joey…”
Finally she allows him to grab her around the waist from behind. This is Step 3. He shuffles his back legs close to hers. He holds her quite firmly, and as males are usually much larger than females, he can keep her there for some time. Kangaroo mating can be quite brief, or can last for 10 minutes or more with pauses.
The female kangaroo often tries to get away after a minute or two, and he usually tries to hold onto her. Large male kangaroos have massive arms, which could help them hold onto females. If she tries really hard she can usually escape, just by twisting and wriggling.
Then she hops off.
And he looks around to see which female next deserves his attention.
The Sunset Koalas & Kangaroos tour offers a high likelihood of seeing kangaroos mating. The tour heads out to a known wild kangaroo population in the late afternoon, when the roos are starting to emerge from the shade. This is the most likely time for kangaroo mating to occur.