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Are Kangaroos Smart? Decoding the Intelligence of Kangaroos

two kangaroos standing on green grass

Are Kangaroos Smart? Decoding the Intelligence of Kangaroos

You’ve probably heard of stories where kangaroos hopped onto the road with the full-on glare of vehicle headlights but refused to budge. You’ve also most likely heard about boxing matches these marsupials engage in.

But what about intelligence? Are kangaroos smart?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the fascinating world of kangaroo intelligence and learn just how smart these hopping creatures really are.

Are Kangaroos Smart?

Kangaroos possess decent intelligence, evident in their ability to communicate with humans in order to get food and use strategic methods, such as luring predators into the water, to protect themselves. 

Generally speaking, these marsupials are often misunderstood, and many people believe that they are dummies because they tend to jump in front of cars and freeze when faced with bright headlights.

However, this behavior is not due to a lack of intelligence but rather a natural reaction to being blinded by the lights.

Kangaroos move by hopping, and they are hesitant to jump to a new location if they can’t clearly see where they will land. Also, kangaroos can’t move backwards, so it’s a tricky situation.

While it’s true that kangaroos may not be the smartest creatures out there, it’s important to note that they are non-domesticated animals and still exhibit unique traits that set them apart from other wild animals. Their cognitive abilities and adaptive behaviors demonstrate a level of intelligence that should not be underestimated.

Through dedicated research and observation by wildlife enthusiasts, we have gained valuable insights into the fascinating world of kangaroos. These studies have shed light on their intelligence and resourcefulness, helping us better understand and appreciate these remarkable creatures.

What Makes Kangaroos Smart Animals?

Let’s examine the cognitive abilities of the largest marsupials, specifically focusing on three key aspects: communication, defense strategies, and social intelligence.

Kangaroos Can ‘Communicate’ With Humans

So, a lot of you might be on the edge of your seats and wondering, “The Parrots kind of way?”

Of course not! Kangaroos can’t talk. But kangaroos communicate with humans in the way our dogs and cats do, even if they were not as domesticated.

To validate this fact, a group of scientists carried out an experiment on about 10 kangaroos from an Australian Zoo in an enclosed setting – the kangaroos were partly domesticated so they didn’t pose any potential harm to the scientists.

The roos were locked in with a box of food and a lone researcher. The researcher confirmed that when the kangaroos couldn’t get the food out after a while; the kangaroos resorted to asking for help. He said that the kangaroos made gestures by looking between him and the box and later they began to stroke his hands and legs.

These were surprising results, which showed that these hopping animals possess higher mental capabilities than previously thought.

According to an animal behavior scientist, this experiment demonstrated the kangaroos’ unique way of communicating their needs. In contrast, when a similar study was conducted with wolves, they resorted to ripping the box apart rather than seeking help.

Related Article on Animal Intelligence: How Intelligent Are Lions?

Outsmarting Predators With Cunning Strategies

Now, let’s take a detour to the wild. Although most of the kangaroos’ natural predators like the Tasmanian tigers, the thylacines, the marsupial lion, and wombs have gone extinct, humans and dingoes occasionally prey on them.

Most animals in the wild escape their predators like… Well, how wild animals do – run away – but not kangaroos. They run with a plan.

Kangaroos are muscular animals with very good swimming abilities. These natural gifts have helped them tremendously in the wild.

When under attack, a kangaroo’s primary instinct is to seek out a nearby water source. Once found, they cunningly lure the predator into the water, setting the stage for their counterattack. 

With the adversary now vulnerable, the kangaroo expertly employs its forepaws to submerge and drown the attacker. This remarkable strategy showcases the ingenuity of kangaroos, transforming them from mere prey into clever and resourceful survivors.

Social Intelligence

Another important characteristic that affects the level of the kangaroo’s intelligence lies in their social life. Social intelligence results in higher mental capabilities, unlike a solitary lifestyle.

However, it is worth mentioning that not all animals that live in groups are necessarily smarter than solitary animals, but social structure certainly affects cognitive abilities in a positive way.

A group of kangaroos is called a mob and it typically counts ten or more individuals, where the most dominant male is the leader of the group.

Kangaroos have several ways of building cohesion. Nose touching, sniffing, or simply producing “clicking” sounds when they are happy and affectionate.

These fascinating marsupials also have a distinctive way of asserting dominance or vying for a mate: boxing. Male kangaroos frequently engage in these bouts within their mob, with the older, larger individuals often emerging as victors.

This is because male kangaroos never cease to grow, so as they age, they become more dominant and formidable.

Kangaroos are also known for their impressive ability to cooperate with one another. In fact, female kangaroos often team up and take turns caring for their young in the role of “aunties”.

This behavior is so common that it has a name – alloparenting – and it’s not just limited to kangaroos. Wolves and elephants are also known to engage in this kind of communal parenting.

FAQs About Kangaroos’ Intelligence

In this section, I will answer the most frequently asked questions about the intelligence of kangaroos.

Are Kangaroos Smarter Than Dogs?

No, kangaroos are not considered more intelligent than dogs. Dogs possess advanced abilities in understanding and reacting to human cues, problem-solving, and exhibiting social intelligence. As our trusted companions for thousands of years, dogs have learned to master intricate commands, detect scents, and aid in numerous activities such as hunting, herding, and search-and-rescue missions.

Can Kangaroos be Trained?

Kangaroos can be trained to some extent, but their capacity for learning is limited compared to more domesticated animals. Kangaroos are wild animals with strong natural instincts, making them less adaptable to training and human interaction. So, their wild nature makes them unsuitable as pets or for advanced training like service animals.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, although many people tend to believe that kangaroos are not overly smart animals, recent studies have suggested the opposite. So, we probably have to shift our viewpoint on these hopping marsupials and their intellect, granting them the recognition they rightfully deserve.

Although they may not rank as the smartest beings on Earth, their capabilities in human communication, outsmarting predators, and engaging in complex social behaviors demonstrate that they possess a notable level of intelligence. 

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