Why Do Kangaroos Fight?

June 1, 2023

You may have thought of kangaroos as being essentially peace-loving herbivores, but it turns out these creatures are surprisingly fierce fighters. Their sharp claws and powerful kicks can cause serious injury, especially if you get too close to one. But while most of the time, kangaroos prefer to flee rather than fight, they will attack if they feel cornered or perceive you as a rival.

Male kangaroos engage in “fun fighting” or sparring as a way to practice their combat skills and prepare themselves for actual fights when they come across a challenger. During these bouts, they will grapple and punch each other like boxers, even using their razor-sharp front claws. They can also perform a unique “kickbox” move in which they balance on their tails and kick out with both of their back legs. This is a great workout for them, as they use all their musculature and have to keep their center of gravity balanced.

Generally, the winner of these fights will be able to push his opponent backward or down to the ground. And while they are primarily kicking, they will occasionally grasp their opponents to add a little bit of physicality and intimidation to their combat. This fighting has been known to help establish dominance hierarchies between males, as winners of these fights have been seen to displace their opponents from their resting sites later in the day.

Thankfully, it’s rare to see a wild kangaroo attacking humans. But if you happen to encounter one, stay calm, drop down low into a crouch and protect your head with your arms. It’s also a good idea to call for help as soon as possible, as these creatures can be very dangerous.


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