These Are The 20 Cutest Species Of Kangaroo In The World

Some hop, some live in trees, some are tiny and some are huge. Not every critter on this list is actually a kangaroo, but they’re all closely related to them. And they’re all damn cute, so who cares anyway?

Kangaroos are in the Macropodidae family, which literally translates as “big foot,” because kangaroos have big feet. And there are many, many different macropods, from tiny rodent-like kangaroos to gigantic muscular kangaroos. Some hop across the outback; some live in trees. They are all marsupials, and the vast majority of them are incredibly cute. As a note: the word “kangaroo” is a common term usually used for the largest members of the macropod family; it’s not a scientific term, so we feel comfortable talking about teensy macropods as “little kangaroos,” even if biologists probably wouldn’t. In any case! We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to 20 of the most adorable kangaroos.

Banded Hare-Wallaby

Banded Hare-Wallaby

Banded Hare-Wallaby

You might think, looking at the banded hare-wallaby, that it’s some kind of rabbit or rodent. John Gould/Wikipedia

Nope: it’s a macropod, just like a kangaroo. But it’s an especially odd one, the only member of its sub-family. It seems likely that it’s a kind of living fossil, a small, rabbity kangaroo that’s similar to ancient kangaroos and not as closely related to the others on our list. It is, however, very cute, despite being found only on a few isolated islands off the coast of Australia.

Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo

Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo

Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo

Yep, there are tree-kangaroos. CC BY-SA 4.0RedGazelle15/Wikimedia

No other kangaroo lives in trees, but these guys have evolved to be surprisingly agile up on the rainforest branches where they live: their tails are almost prehensile, their feet are proportionally larger, they have nice long claws for climbing, and they even have grippy pads on their hands and feet to enable them to stay in the treetops. The Matschie’s tree-kangaroo is one of the largest, living in the wild in Papua New Guinea but also a common sight in zoos.

Dingiso

Dingiso

Dingiso

The dingiso, despite what its name implies, has no relation to the wild canine also native to Australasia, the dingo. Instead it’s a teddy-bear-like tree-kangaroo, black and white in color, native to New Guinea Island in Indonesia. Diprotodontia/Wikipedia

Only filmed for the first time in 2009, the dingiso is elusive, and though it’s listed as endangered, it has one advantage. The indigenous people of New Guinea Island view the animal as an ancestor, and it is deeply taboo to harm it. That protection has enabled a fairly stable, though still alarmingly small, population to survive.

Spectacled Hare-Wallaby

Spectacled Hare-Wallaby

Spectacled Hare-Wallaby

Small for a kangaroo but large for a hare-wallaby, this fellow can be found on the Australian mainland. John Gould/Wikipedia

Its name comes from the distinctive orange circles around its eyes; it’s not totally clear why they have them. Many of these animals live in some of the hottest savannahs on the planet, and so they have lots of adaptations to deal with the temperature and aridity. They never drink water, for example, and they build elaborate nests out of the dry grasses they find.

Pretty-Faced Wallaby

Pretty-Faced Wallaby

Pretty-Faced Wallaby

More commonly known as the whiptail wallaby, we are choosing to use its other name because this is a list of cute animals and this kangaroo’s cuteness is right in the name. CC BY-SA 3.0Quartl/Wikipedia

It’s a fairly large wallaby, which makes it a mid-sized kangaroo, and we assume it gets its name because the black and white stripes on its face are very pretty. Living in eastern Australia, the pretty-faced wallaby has a very long tail, and is one of the more sociable members of the kangaroo family. It usually hangs out in large groups, sometimes numbering more than 50.

Black Wallaroo

Black Wallaroo

Black Wallaroo

One of the shyest and most elusive of all kangaroos, the black wallaroo lives only in a small, mountainous part of Australia’s Northern Territory. Getty Images

Its habitat is very rocky, pocked with caves that the black wallaroo likes to hide in whenever people come to take pictures of its very cute little face. They’re not very big for a wallaroo, up to about three feet tall at most. But we know very little about it; because it’s so shy, it’s considered probably the least known of all kangaroos.

Bridled Nail-Tail Wallaby

Bridled Nail-Tail Wallaby

Bridled Nail-Tail Wallaby

This wallaby has enormous eyes, like an anime character, which for evolutionary reasons humans associate with cuteness. (Our babies also have comparatively big eyes; we want to care for and protect animals with big eyes.) CC BY-SA 3.0DiverDave/Wikipedia

The bridled nail-tail wallaby lives in Queensland, and was actually believed to be extinct for decades until a fencing contractor spotted one in 1973. After it was confirmed to be non-extinct, conservation efforts took hold, although it’s still desperately endangered. There are probably fewer than 500 adults left.

Nabarlek

Nabarlek

Nabarlek

Not all kangaroos are called kangaroos, wallabies, or wallaroos. John Gould/Wikipedia

The nabarlek is a teensy member of the rock-wallaby family, and its name comes from the Kunwinjku langauge of the people of northern Australia. It’s fairly common in a few of Australia’s parks, and is most unusual for its teeth. Teeth patterns, or dentition, is a common way for scientists to figure out what an animal eats and what it’s related to; the nabarlek has a very weird one, in that its molars continuously grow and are replaced by new ones. It’s guessed that this is due to the large amount of silica, or quartz, in its diet.

Allied Rock-Wallaby

Allied Rock-Wallaby

Allied Rock-Wallaby

So here’s the thing about rock-wallabies: most of them basically look the same. CC BY 3.0Diliff/Wikipedia

But that’s okay, because they’re all incredibly cute. This particular one lives in Queensland, and mostly eats leaves. Rock-wallabies perform some of the same functions in an ecosystem as, say, a giraffe: they live in places without a lot of nutritious plants to eat, so they have evolved to eat a lot of less nutritious plants. Some of these plants are even toxic, and the wallabies have enzymes to break them down so they don’t get sick.

Quokka

Quokka

Quokka

One of the kangaroos that looks least like a kangaroo, the quokka sort of looks like a kangaroo version of a groundhog: stocky, cat-sized, greyish-brownish in color. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0Brian W. Schaller/Wikimedia

Quokkas are known within Australia for being incredibly friendly; they have little fear of humans and will sometimes come right up to them. This tendency has not served them well; they used to be widespread, but hunting and habitat destruction have left them to a couple of islands off the western coast of Australia.

Tasmanian Pademelon

Tasmanian Pademelon

Tasmanian Pademelon

Pademelons are a group of some pretty small members of the kangaroo family, and this guy is the only one native to the colder, less populated, southern island of Tasmania. CC BY-SA 3.0JJ Harrison/Wikipedia

Pademelons like to live in forests, unlike rock-wallabies, though they do travel by hopping back and forth. Interestingly, the Tasmanian pademelon was once a primary food for the thylacine, one of the most amazing recently extinct animals: a striped, wolf-like carnivorous marsupial that went extinct in the 1940s. Without that predator, the Tasmanian pademelon is pretty common on its home island.

Swamp Wallaby

Swamp Wallaby

Swamp Wallaby

Nobody is quite sure what to make of the swamp wallaby. CC BY-SA 3.0jjron/Wikipedia

It’s currently classified in its own group, separate from the other wallabies, due to a different number of chromosomes and some weird teeth patterns, as well as its weird gait. It hops around, like other kangaroos, but holds its head very low to the ground, for some reason. Its name comes from a foul odor it produces, and it’s sometimes known locally as the “black stinker.” You can find them throughout eastern Australia, including in and around major cities like Sydney.

Red-Necked Pademelon

Red-Necked Pademelon

Red-Necked Pademelon

Another great forest-dwelling pademelon, the red-necked pademelon lives in eastern Australia, often in wooded areas around the coast. CC BY-SA 2.0Mike's Birds/Wikimedia

It’s pretty shy, and most sources say it’s usually solitary, though it’s sometimes found in groups of just a couple of pademelons. Like all kangaroos, they are herbivorous, in this case eating mostly grasses and bark and leaves. Animal Diversity Web somewhat rudely states that this pademelon’s primary ecological role is to be food for larger animals like foxes and dingos. That source does not mention the red-necked pademelon’s cute face.

Rothschild’s Rock-Wallaby

Rothschild’s Rock-Wallaby

Rothschild’s Rock-Wallaby

One of the biggest of all rock-wallabies, this golden cutie lives in the rocky western outcroppings of Australia. CC BY-SA 4.0Evan Pickett/Wikipedia

It lives in a region where mining has disrupted its habitat, but by far the biggest danger comes from another cute animal: the red fox. In the 1830s, British idiots imported dozens of red foxes to Australia simply to hunt them. They were evidently not good enough at hunting, because now there are millions of red foxes in Australia, where they don’t belong. Small kangaroo species like the Rothschild’s rock-wallaby are frequently prey for invasive foxes, and despite efforts, the foxes have proven very difficult to remove.

Grey Dorcopsis

Grey Dorcopsis

Grey Dorcopsis

Another fun subcategory of kangaroos is the “dorcopsis.” J G Keulemans/Wikimedia

Dorcopsises. Dorcopsae? It is unclear what the plural of “dorcopsis” might be. In any case, these guys look sort of like greyhounds, sleek and grey. It lives in tropical southern New Guinea, in primary rainforests, where it struggles to survive with the twin dangers of deforestation and hunting for the bushmeat trade. There are four, possibly five members of the dorcopsis clan, all of which look fairly similar: short dense fur, long snout, big eyes. Greyhound face.

Ornate Tree Kangaroo

Ornate Tree Kangaroo

Ornate Tree Kangaroo

We’re a sucker for any animal called “ornate.” Shutterstock

There are several. The ornate box turtle, ornate monitor lizard, ornate hawk-eagle, ornate butterflyfish, and many, many more. If you think an animal is so ornate in appearance that you must permanently name it “ornate,” there’s a high chance it’s going to be very cool-looking. This particular ornate animal is also called Goodfellow’s tree-kangaroo, which is a pretty good but not as good name. It lives in Indonesia and New Guinea, stays up in trees, and despite not being a ground-bound kangaroo is able to jump very far distances.

Brush-Tailed Rock-Wallaby

Brush-Tailed Rock-Wallaby

Brush-Tailed Rock-Wallaby

The brush-tailed rock-wallaby has been hit very hard by the brushfires that have ravaged Australia in recent months; it lives in eastern Australia, nearish to the coast, and an estimated 70 percent of its habitat has been destroyed. CC BY 2.5Power ML, Emery S, Gillings MR/Wikipedia

It’s less common now than it used to be, partly because of that, partly because of red foxes, and partly because in the 19th century, some Australians brought this particular species to a bunch of places where it really didn’t belong, including New Zealand. It became invasive there, and eventually had to be removed.

Yellow-Footed Rock-Wallaby

Yellow-Footed Rock-Wallaby

Yellow-Footed Rock-Wallaby

Also known as the ring-tailed wallaby, this is the only kangaroo species with stripes. CC BY-SA 3.0Peripitus/Wikipedia

In its case, those stripes are orange-and-brown on the tail, like a tiger’s, which is very fun. It lives, like the other rock-wallabies, in very rough, rocky areas, preferring a couple of scattered locations in the eastern half of Australia. It was initially hunted for its fur, which is understandable if abhorrent, but thanks to significant protections, its population seems to be rebounding. In fact, the strategy used to help the yellow-footed rock-wallaby was successful enough to be used for other kangaroo species, as a kind of model.

Red Kangaroo

Red Kangaroo

Red Kangaroo

The largest of all kangaroo species, this is the iconic kangaroo of the red-dirt outback, bounding along in huge herds of, sometimes, over a thousand. CC BY 2.5SouthernAnt/Wikipedia

They are grazers, mostly bouncing in search of green grass to eat, resting during the heat of the day in the shade of whatever meager bushes and trees they can find. Males, which are larger than females, can approach six feet tall and 200 pounds; these are very big animals, though they manage to remain adorable.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

There are two species of grey kangaroo, but the eastern, in our opinion, is cuter, with fluffier fur and big black eyes. CC BY-SA 3.0Quartl/Wikipedia

It is the most common kangaroo in all of Australia, numbering in the millions. They hang out together in small groups, usually of around three, and are so common that they’re even considered pests, sometimes. Like the white-tailed deer in the United States, the eastern grey kangaroo lives near agricultural land, and, like us, has a taste for crops. But also like the white-tailed deer, the eastern grey kangaroo is undoubtedly an objectively cute animal.





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