How Strong Are Kangaroos? [Strength Facts & Compared To Humans?]

A herd of kangaroos
Michael Waddle / Pexels

Kangaroos look like a bunch of friendly, cuddly creatures that wouldn’t harm a fly. They are Australia’s cultural icon and usually docile animals. You shouldn’t let their soft nature fool you, though. These marsupials can become aggressive towards people and other animals. Kangaroos have been known to kill dogs, and they are strong enough to cause serious injuries to humans. Are you now wondering how strong are kangaroos?

Kangaroos have muscular hind legs that can exert a kick force of about 759 pounds. They also have powerful tails and a punch force of about 275 pounds. Kangaroos also have powerful jaws and a bite force of up to 925 PSI – about the same force as a grizzly bear and almost six times stronger than humans.

Kangaroo strength facts:

  • Paw Swipe Force: 8,800 lb.-ft./s
  • Adult Paw Size: approximately 6×7 inches
  • Kangaroo Bite Force: 925 PSI
  • Teeth Size: 1.5 to 2 inches 
  • Tail Strength: approximately 200 lbs. of force

How Strong Are Kangaroos?

Inhabiting Australia’s dry forests, grasslands, and deserts, kangaroos are herbivorous marsupials spending their days grazing and munching on tree leaves. They don’t need strength for hunting, but the morphology of their bodies requires a lot of strength for movement. 

Kangaroos have a peculiar locomotion system that mostly sees them hopping around. Their hind legs and tails are powerful enough to propel their bodies up to six feet high. Kangaroos can also cover up to 25 feet in a single leap and reach speeds up to 44 miles per hour.

But kangaroos don’t have only powerful hind limbs and tails. Their forelimbs are also muscular and strong. A kangaroo mostly uses its forelimbs for grooming and feeding, but also to defend itself and sometimes to punch its adversaries when fighting. But how strong are its arms?

Given their body weight, kangaroos can truly pack a punch. Their weight and speed combined can generate an impact momentum of up to 8,800 lb.-ft./s. That’s over eight times the impact force the average human can generate. 

The kangaroo punch force is similar to that of a human – about 275 pounds of force. But while a kangaroo’s punch wouldn’t kill you, its kick (which is usually the marsupial’s preferred combat movement) is much stronger.

As you’d expect, the kangaroo’s size and weight determine its actual strength. Like most mammals, kangaroos are sexually dimorphic, with the males much larger and stronger than females (about twice the size and strength). In addition to gender differences, there is also a difference between the various kangaroo species.

Kangaroo Size And Strength Differences By Species 

There are four main types of kangaroos and two types of wallaroos that belong to the same genus (Macropus) but that are smaller and weaker than kangaroos. 

See also  Do Whale Sharks Have Scales? [Yes! Not Like Other Fish]

The table below shows the size, weight, and strength differences between these six species: 

SpeciesHeightWeightAvg. strike force
Red kangaroo4.3 - 5.2 ft.2.7 - 3.4 ft.121 - 201 lbs.40 - 88 lbs.7,084 lb.-ft./s2,816 lb.-ft./s
Eastern gray kangaroo3.4 - 4.3 ft.2.7 - 3.3 ft.110 - 146 lbs.37 - 88 lbs.5,632 lb.-ft./s2,750 lb.-ft./s
Antilopine kangaroo3.3 - 4.9 ft.2.6 - 3 ft.60 - 154 lbs.33 - 66 lbs.4,708 lb.-ft./s2,178 lb.-ft./s
Western gray kangaroo2.9 - 3.7 ft.2.7 - 3.3 ft.62 - 120 lbs.30 - 60 lbs.4,004 lb.-ft./s1,980 lb.-ft./s
Common wallaroo3.3 - 4.6 ft.2.5 - 3.3 ft.50 - 100 lbs.40 - 50 lbs.3,300 lb.-ft./s1,980 lb.-ft./s
Black wallaroo2.6 - 3.3 ft.2.4 - 2.6 ft.42 - 50 lbs.28 - 40 lbs.2,024 lb.-ft./s1,496 lb.-ft./s

Note: The average strike force above is calculated based on the average weight of an adult male or adult female kangaroo, respectively, and considering the top speed of 44 miles per hour.

Bite Force (PSI)

Kangaroos have a nose and ears that remind us of a hare. However, their jaws are much stronger. Kangaroos have a bite force of 925 PSI, which is only slightly lower than a grizzly bear’s 975 PSI. Their bite force is about six times stronger than the bite force of a human, which is 162 PSI

However, unlike grizzly bears, kangaroos wouldn’t be able to kill you with a bite. These marsupials are vegetarians, and their skull and teeth aren’t shaped to exert a lot of force on the front teeth, which would be needed to tear through flesh. 

In fact, kangaroos don’t have canine teeth at all – or if they do, they are very small. Instead, they have long incisors that can grow up to two inches long. 

Kangaroos use their incisor teeth to rip the grass blades or the leaves and twigs off trees and bushes. The premolars and molars are used for chewing and crushing seeds but are located at a distance from the incisors. This gap makes it hard for kangaroos to latch on an opponent and tear through its skin.

How Strong Is a Kangaroo Kick?

We already mentioned that a kangaroo’s prized weapon in a fight is its kick. These marsupials have very strong, very muscular hind legs they mostly use for locomotion. Kangaroos are usually docile animals and don’t normally engage in fights. 

However, when they feel threatened or want to fight off another kangaroo, they use their hind legs to kick the opponent. And they do so with the accuracy of a taekwondo master. 

Now, are you wondering how fast a kangaroo can kick and whether it can kill you? A red kangaroo can hit with a speed of over 40 miles per hour and about 759 pounds of force. Trained martial art masters can kick faster and with greater force, but if you’re the average human, you have slim chances of fighting off the kangaroo.

See also  Are Lions Friendly? [Answer Explained]

You should also know that 759 pounds of force are more than enough for the kangaroo not only to fight you off but to shatter your bones and potentially kill you.

How Fast Can Kangaroos Run?

Kangaroos have bodies designed for hopping rather than walking or running. Nevertheless, they can reach incredible speeds of up to 44 miles per hour. That’s faster than a grizzly or polar bear and only slightly slower than a big cat, such as a tiger or lion.

The morphology of their hind limbs, which is adapted to this way of locomotion, is also the reason why kangaroos have such powerful kicks. 

In addition to strong muscles, a kangaroo’s hind limbs have stretchy tendons that act like springs. As these tendons contract and strain, they generate the energy required for hopping. But that’s not the only reason why kangaroos can cover up to 25 feet in a single leap or jump six feet high.

The animal’s tail also plays an important role, balancing and propelling the kangaroo into each leap.  

In fact, the tail is strong enough to hold the kangaroo’s entire body weight. Not only does it come in handy for leaping, but kangaroos can also use the tail during a fight, either to maintain their balance while kicking or to hit the opponent. 

Swipe Force

Unlike their hind limbs, kangaroos don’t have strong forelimbs. They mostly use their forelimbs as hands to rip leaves and twigs off the trees or shrubs. Nevertheless, the speed and body size can help them gain enough momentum for a powerful swipe.

While the actual swipe force depends on the individual’s weight and speed at the moment of the impact, a strong male kangaroo can develop a force of up to 8,800 lb.-ft./s. This is about the same swipe force as an average mountain lion and over eight times stronger than the average human

How Strong Are Kangaroos’ Tails?

In addition to strong limbs and a powerful bite, kangaroos also have strong tails they can use to hit a predator. Their tails are strong enough to hold the entire weight of the animal, which could reach 200 pounds. However, it is believed that their tails are actually stronger. 

Because it is involved in locomotion, a kangaroo’s tail has more muscle mass than the marsupial’s forelimbs. Studies also demonstrated that kangaroos use their tails to create positive mechanical work during quadrupedal locomotion, which means that the tail is used to lift and accelerate the body.

However, kangaroos rarely use their tails to hit during a fight. While this could happen, it is more likely that the kangaroo will use its tail for balance and to support its body weight while kicking with both hind limbs at the same time.

How Are Kangaroos So Strong?

Kangaroos are vegetarians, so they don’t have to be strong to hunt and kill prey. Their strength is most likely the result of their anatomy and adaptation to the environment.

See also  Do Jaguars Hibernate or Migrate? [Winter Behavior Facts]

These marsupials live in the harsh regions of Australia. Their strong, muscular limbs and tails enable them to cover large distances relatively fast, which is crucial when the resources – such as food and water – are scarce. 

A male kangaroo’s strength may also play a role in reproduction. Kangaroos live in groups called mobs, and a stronger kangaroo can claim a higher place in the mob’s hierarchy. Thus, he has better chances at mating with the mob’s females.

How Strong Are Kangaroos Compared To Humans?

Kangaroos are about six to eight times stronger than humans. They have a powerful bite that exceeds 900 PSI – this is the same bite power some apex predators have. By comparison, humans have a bite force of about 162 PSI. 

A kangaroo’s swipe and kick forces are also greater than those of the average, untrained man. A male kangaroo can throw punches with a force of almost 275 pounds. Stronger and heavier, yet untrained men rarely have a swipe force higher than 45 pounds. That’s about six times less than the swipe force of a kangaroo, and most people are weaker than that.

The situation changes if a kangaroo has to face a trained individual. While the kangaroo would still have a more powerful bite, a trained martial arts master would likely have a more powerful kick and punch force than a kangaroo.

Kangaroo vs. Gorilla Strength Comparison

Kangaroos are surprisingly strong, but they are not the strongest herbivores in the animal kingdom. Gorillas are much stronger than kangaroos in terms of both body power and bite force. 

The table below compares the strength of a kangaroo vs. a gorilla: 

Bite force925 PSI1,300 PSI
Strike force8,800 lb.-ft./s12,500 lb.-ft./s
Lift force750 lbs.1,800 lbs.
Speed 44 mph 20 mph 
Weight 200 lbs.500 lbs.

As you can notice, gorillas are much larger and stronger than kangaroos. They have a more powerful bite and mouths equipped with sharp fangs that would enable gorillas to slice through the kangaroo’s skin and rip through its flesh.

Gorillas also have a much higher lift force. Not only can they lift more, but they can actually raise that weight over their heads and throw it. 

Kangaroos can also lift more than their body weight, but not with their forelimbs. They would be able to lift that weight with their hind limbs, and while they would be able to throw the load to some degree, they wouldn’t be able to throw it as far or as efficiently as gorillas could.

A higher body mass and larger hands would also mean that gorillas can throw a more powerful punch.

Kangaroos and gorillas live in different habitats, but if it came to a one-on-one, kangaroos can only find a trustworthy ally in their speed. Twice as fast as gorillas, kangaroos could save their lives by hopping as far as possible from the primate.

James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

Recent Posts