Is It Legal To Punch A Kangaroo? (If Threatened By It)

When traveling to another country, it is important to make sure that you have read about the different customs and laws that they have in order to stay out of trouble with law enforcement and avoid upsetting locals.

Is It Legal To Punch A Kangaroo (If Threatened By It)

Visiting Australia might seem like an easy trip to research because culturally, they are very similar to the US. However, there are a few situations that you might find yourself in that you wouldn’t at home.

One such situation is being squared up to by a large kangaroo. In this situation, instinct is likely to take over.  In this article, we ask whether it is legal to punch a kangaroo if you are being threatened by it. 

Is It Legal To Punch A Kangaroo?

Jumping straight into the main question, it is important to note that kangaroos are a protected species in Australia. It is possible for hunters to obtain a special license that allows them to shoot kangaroos with certain restrictions. This generally applies to areas and settings in which kangaroos are considered to be pests.  

Despite being Australia’s national animal and generally considered to be harmless, this species does have the potential to disembowel its opponents when fighting.

There have been documented instances where kangaroos have attacked dogs and humans but they are rare occurrences.  

As a general rule, animal cruelty is illegal in Australia. Although there is no national legislation, the laws differ slightly from state to state but are likely to incur fines or jail time.

Animal cruelty is defined as causing unnecessary, unjustified, and unreasonable pain to an animal. This obviously includes punching a kangaroo. However, if you are punching a kangaroo in self-defense, there may be a different legal response. 

Court Cases If You Punch A Kangaroo

As hinted above, if you are caught punching a kangaroo and you plead self-defense, you are likely to end up in court. In these instances, the prosecution will be trying to argue and prove that striking the kangaroo was unnecessary, unjustified, or unreasonable.

You will have to argue against this and prove that your action was not only reasonable but also necessary. If you are successful in arguing self-defense, you will be granted an exception that allows you to avoid a fine or jail time. 

What Should You Do If You Are Threatened By A Kangaroo?

If you find yourself in a situation where it looks like a kangaroo is about to attack you, it can be instinct to want to fight the animal.  However, this isn’t a great strategy.

Engaging in a fight with a kangaroo is putting yourself at risk of severe injury or even death. These creatures are highly evolved and posses unique features that make them a challenging opponent. Similarly, if you cannot prove that any harm caused to the animal was done in self-defense, you could be facing legal issues.  

The Australian environment and heritage office say that kangaroos attack a person in the same way as they would another kangaroo.

This may involve pushing or grappling using its forepaws, alternatively, it may lean back and kick out with its hind legs. When a kangaroo uses its hind legs to attack, the long, sharp claws are likely to inflict serious wounds.

As resulting injuries can be serious, it is vital to try and avoid conflict where possible.

If you do end up in a situation where a kangaroo might attack, the Australian government recommends avoiding attracting attention to yourself.

Standing still, and keeping your head and arms low is the best way to do this. You should wait until the aggressive kangaroo has moved away from you before continuing on your way.  

If necessary, you should crawl or retreat in a crouched position until you reach a safe location that is a distance away from the kangaroo.

If possible, you should try to position a tree, bush, or fence between you and the kangaroo and call for help. Make sure you alert any potential helper to the danger.  

If a kangaroo does escalate from intimidating you to attacking you, you should drop to the ground and curl into a ball. In this position, you should protect your head, face, and neck with your hands.

You should try to stay calm and stay in this position until the kangaroo moves away. If there is a break in the attack, you could try to move away to a safe location but stay close to the ground. This will allow you to return to the curled-up position should the attack resume.  

It might be instinctual to shout for help while a kangaroo is attacking you, however, this can actually make the attack worse.

It is possible for the kangaroo to interpret this as antagonistic or as a further threat.  The best course of action is to remain quiet and still throughout. 

If a kangaroo is beginning to attack because you have a dog with you, you should try to get on the ground and make a ball around the dog. This will help to protect both of you from the kangaroo.

This is obviously easier with a smaller dog, but it is possible. The more still that you can keep yourself and your dog, the shorter the attack should be. 

What Happens If You Punch A Kangaroo?

If you are concerned that in a situation where a confrontation with a kangaroo is likely, you might be interested to know what might happen if instinct takes over and you do end up hitting a kangaroo.  

Although animals are unpredictable by nature, the most common result of hitting a kangaroo is that it will retaliate.  It is very unlikely that you will strike a kangaroo that is acting aggressive or intimidating and it will back off.

Much more likely is that you will punch the aggressive kangaroo and it will begin to attack with its hind legs.  

A kangaroo attack that begins as a result of antagonization is likely to be significantly worse than an attack that begins despite you doing the right things.

If you start the altercation, it is likely to be much more sustained and aggressive and can result in much worse injuries to you or your dog.  

Tips To Avoid Kangaroo Attacks

Tips To Avoid Kangaroo Attacks

The main tip that can help avoid kangaroo attacks pertains to the presence of a dog. A dog is much more likely to be the cause of a kangaroo attack than a human is.

This is because both dogs and kangaroos are animals and therefore can be very unpredictable.  

If you are walking your dog in an area where you are likely to encounter kangaroos such as a national park or other open space, it is paramount that you keep your dog on a leash.

By keeping your dog leashed and under control, you significantly reduce the risk of your pet running up to a kangaroo and causing an issue.  

Final Thoughts

Kangaroo attacks on humans or dogs are very rare but they can happen. When they do, it can be instinct to punch a kangaroo in self-defense.

In general, it is illegal to punch a kangaroo unless you can prove that you were acting to defend yourself. There are other, better ways to deal with a kangaroo.

Olivia Kepner