Whether you live in Australia yourself or are thinking about traveling there one day, you’ve probably either seen or wondered if you’ll see a kangaroo.
The kangaroo is the official symbol of Australia, and from a distance, these animals are interesting and even cute to look at.
However, anyone who knows anything about kangaroos will tell you this is one animal you don’t want to get into a fight with.
Kangaroos can inflict some serious damage on humans and other animals if they feel threatened.
While kangaroos will typically avoid humans rather than engaging in confrontation, they can attack if provoked.
In case you find yourself in a position where you have (presumably unintentionally) provoked a kangaroo, it’s useful to know what to do to get out of the situation.
Should you fight, or should you run away?
Read on to find out whether running away from a kangaroo attack is a good idea, and what your other options are.
How Dangerous Are Kangaroo Attacks?
If you look at the statistics on kangaroo attacks, you’ll see that the last recorded human death resulting from a kangaroo attack was back in 1936.
While there have been kangaroo attacks in Australia since then, they are still very rare, and none have been fatal.
So, in the grand scheme of things, being attacked by a kangaroo isn’t something you need to worry about too much.
Still, it’s good to be prepared for every eventuality, especially considering how dangerous kangaroos can be if they feel the need to protect themselves or their young.
The main source of danger during a kangaroo attack is the animal’s powerful hind legs, which can deliver enough force to shatter bones (759 pounds of force, to be precise).
When you add in the fact that a kangaroo’s feet are adorned with razor-sharp claws that can easily slice through not just skin, but layers of flesh, it’s pretty clear that getting into a physical fight with a kangaroo is something best avoided.
Bearing that in mind, running away from a rampaging kangaroo might seem like the most logical thing to do. But is that really a good idea? Let’s find out.
Should You Run From A Kangaroo?
Since your chances of physically overpowering an adult kangaroo are extraordinarily slim, you might assume that the best thing to do in the event of a kangaroo attack is to run for the hills.
However, running from a kangaroo is actually not a very good idea.
The average athlete can run at a top speed of about 18.23 miles per hour, which is the equivalent of 29.3 kilometers per hour.
By contrast, your average red kangaroo can reach speeds of roughly 70 kilometers per hour.
You don’t need to do any complicated math here to realize that a kangaroo could easily catch up to you if it wanted to chase you down – which it very well might if it feels the need to defend its territory or its young.
Not only will you never be able to outrun an angry kangaroo, but if you turn your back to run away, you won’t be able to defend yourself against the vicious kicks these animals can deliver while giving chase.
So, the bottom line is, it’s not a good idea to run away from a kangaroo.
What To Do If A Kangaroo Attacks You
If you shouldn’t run away from a kangaroo, what should you do, instead? Well, you have a few options.
Create A Narrow Target
The first thing you should try if an irate-looking kangaroo is approaching you is to turn your body side-on to the animal.
This will ensure that your internal organs and your face aren’t as readily exposed, and you’ll be creating a narrower target for the kangaroo to hit if it lashes out.
Once you’ve turned to the side, try slowly and calmly walking away.
If the kangaroo senses that you don’t want an altercation and you don’t startle it with fast or frantic movements (like running), it might decide to leave you alone.
If the kangaroo continues to approach, you should aim to create a barrier between your face and body and the kangaroo.
If there’s a tree branch nearby, that would be ideal, but if you don’t have any object to protect yourself with, your arms will have to do.
Hold your arms up in front of your face and slowly back away.
If the kangaroo in question is displaying behavior characteristic of a dominant male (rearing up, tensing muscles, shadow boxing, rubbing its chest into the ground or pulling up clumps of grass), your best bet is to be submissive.
Make yourself small and crouch down to the ground, avoiding eye contact.
In kangaroo language, a low grunt which sounds like a deep cough is used to communicate submission to a larger male, so try this and see if the kangaroo gets the message.
Curl Up And Call For Help
If your attempt to communicate submission doesn’t work and you end up in the very unfortunate situation where a kangaroo wants to fight you, the best thing you can do is to call for help, curl into a ball on the ground.
Assuming you don’t have an object like a tree branch to shield or defend yourself with, you’ll need to hope that either the kangaroo loses interest or someone comes to your rescue.
This will probably feel counterintuitive since your fight or flight response is likely to kick in at this point, but curling up in a tight ball will help to protect your face and internal organs.
By making yourself even smaller, you’ll also be continuing to communicate that you don’t want to fight.
You may have seen videos online of people attempting to fist-fight kangaroos during a confrontation, but the reality is that this rarely ends well, so we don’t recommend trying it.
Reducing The Chances Of A Kangaroo Attack
For the most part, kangaroos aren’t interested in attacking humans. They’re vegetarians and they prefer to not engage with humans at all.
The only time a kangaroo is likely to attack you is if it perceives you as a physical threat, so it’s best not to approach kangaroos, especially not in an aggressive way.
Kangaroos can interpret direct eye contact as a threat, so avert your gaze and slowly retreat if you come across a kangaroo.
Also, avoid walking your dogs off-leash in areas where there are kangaroo populations.
Many kangaroo attacks on humans are provoked by confrontations with dogs.
If a kangaroo attacks you, you might be tempted to run away, but this is not a good idea.
The kangaroo will catch you and turning your back leaves you vulnerable.
Instead, turn sideways to make a narrow target and protect your face and organs.
Use your arms (or a tree branch if you can get one) to shield your face and retreat slowly.
You can try communicating submission by crouching down, avoiding eye contact and making a low grunting noise.
As a last resort, do not attempt to fight the kangaroo. Instead, curl into a ball to protect yourself and call for help.
Have you ever considered where Kangaroos come from? See the evolution of kangaroos.