Kangaroo vs. Wallaby: How Are These Cute Creatures Different?

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Feb 20, 2023 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Oct 25, 2021
Fact-checked by Vikhaash Sundararaj
A mother kangaroo showing off her baby in the pouch
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.3 Min

Wallaby and kangaroo are marsupials native to Australia and New Guinea.

Kangaroos, wallabies, and wallaroos, belong to the family of Macropodidae and the class Mammalia. They have pouches in which they raise their young known as a joey, but they are vastly different from one another.

Being native to the same country and habitats, the wallaby and kangaroo are oftentimes confused with each other. They are thought to be the same by many people.

But this is far from the truth. Even though there are several similarities as they both belong to the same family, they are truly different from each other many ways.

Be it their body size, speed, or even teeth, these animals, though related, are not the same. In this article, we will explore the many differences and also the similarities between these two creatures belonging to the same group.

If you like this article on wallaby vs kangaroo differences, be sure to check out moles vs voles and ferret vs weasel to increase your knowledge with these fun facts even further!

Wallaby, Kangaroo, And Their Differences

Wallaby and kangaroo are two adorable and fascinating animals. But what are their differences? Let's find out.

Wallabies and kangaroos belong to the family Macroprdidae and often can be confused with each other. They are both marsupials, they carry their young in a pouch and also belong to the same order.

However, even with a number of similarities, they are not the same and are quite different from each other. They have different body sizes, weigh significantly different, have different colors of coats, and even unique sets of teeth. They both can also sometimes be found in separate habitats.

What are the differences between kangaroos and wallabies?

Though kangaroos and wallabies might look the same at first glance and appear to be related, a closer look at the two of them gives us a clear glimpse of how they are very different from each other.

The first and the most obvious one perhaps is the size of the animal. In wallaby vs kangaroo size, the kangaroos are taller and bigger in size and have a height of about 6.6 ft (2m) tall, the wallabies are much smaller in size and are about 11.8-39 in (30-99.06 cm) tall.

Accordingly, their weight is also different. A kangaroo can weigh around 200.6 lb (91 kg) and a wallaby weighs only about 52 lb (23.6 kg).

The second major difference among them is their hind legs. The wallabies have compact legs, which assist them in moving with great agility in dense forests, whereas kangaroos have their knees and ankles set wide apart from each other.

This gap between the knees and ankles in the hind legs helps them to run with faster speed on the ground.

The color of the coats of these two animals also differs and is a major difference between the two. A kangaroo's coat is uniform and has muted colors like brown or gray.

In contrast, the coat of a wallaby is brighter to look at and has shades of two or more colors. The red-necked wallaby is a good example of this as it has distinct reddish marks on its shoulders.

When it comes to the longevity of the two animals, there is a difference too. Kangaroos can live for a much longer time in comparison to the wallabies. A kangaroo can live for up to 25 years. The oldest known tree kangaroo lived for 27 years. The wallabies, on the other hand, can live between 11-14 years.

Did you also know that although they eat similar things, they have very different teeth? Kangaroos have high-crowned teeth and their teeth are curved.

This is probably due to the fact that their curved teeth help them to eat grass. The wallabies, however, have flat teeth. These flat teeth assist these animals in grinding up leaves in denser forests to eat them.

Where are kangaroos and wallabies found?

Now, let's talk about the habitats of the two animals.

The kangaroo is a marsupial belonging to the family Macropodidae, which is indigenous to New Guinea and Australia. There were about 42.8 million kangaroos in the commercial harvest areas in the year 2019.

Four species of kangaroos can be found. The red kangaroo is the largest animal among all marsupials. This large, red kangaroo from the macropods family can be found in the arid and semi-arid parts of the country like western New South Wales.

The western gray kangaroos can be found in South Australia in areas near the coast, the southern part of Western Australia, and the Murray-Darling Basin. The antilopine kangaroo can be found in the northern areas in woodlands and grassy areas. The eastern gray kangaroo is the most commonly spotted kangaroo.

This animal's wide range extends from the Cape York Peninsula to Victoria. This can also be spotted in Tasmania.

The wallabies, like the kangaroos, can also be found in Australia and New Guinea. The populations now, however, have been introduced in countries like the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

There are about 11 species of brush wallabies. These brush wallabies live in different parts of Australia. The most common among these species is called the red-necked wallaby, which has reddish markings around its shoulders.

The red-necked wallabies live in the brushlands of Tasmania and south-eastern Australia. The wallaby, called the rock wallaby, has about six different species. These rock wallabies live near the water.

The rock wallaby has gray or brown bodies with distinct markings. Apart from these, hare wallabies and scrub wallabies can be found in different parts of Australia.

Kangaroo wallaby standing against white background

Wallaby And Kangaroo Pets

Even though it might be super cute to have baby kangaroos and wallabies walking around in the grass, when it comes to wallaby vs kangaroo pets, it might not be the best idea to keep them as one.

They both require lots of space as well as monetary expenditure to keep them safe and happy in enclosures. Female kangaroos can cost about $3,000, while male kangaroos can cost up to $2,000.

The permit, starter kit, and the food are all over and above the purchasing cost that is paid.

In Canada and the United States, however, kangaroos like the red and the gray kangaroos can be bred for pets as well and can be sold to various wildlife parks as well as zoos.

Kangaroos and wallabies should not be given house training, and socializing with other domestic animals is a big no. To keep these animals happy, they need big areas with loads of grass to graze on and the company of their own kind.

Kangaroo And Wallaby Mating

Though it might be very difficult for different species in the Macropodidae family to mate naturally, macropod hybrids have been possible through various methods.

Some hybrids between two species like kangaroo and wallaby have been achieved through in-vitro fertilization in which the fertilized egg has been implanted into a female of a different species.

Other methods include housing the females and males of different species together to increase the chances of mating and transferring joey into the pouches of other marsupials to make them imprint on the other species.

Wallaby Vs Kangaroo Vs Wallaroo

Wallaroos, like the kangaroo and wallaby, also belong to the macropods family and are marsupials.

They are a distinct species from the kangaroos, wallabies and are moderately large in size. Wallaroos are also native to Australia. Wallaroos can also, at times, refer to several different species like the common wallaroo and the black wallaroo.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for kangaroo vs wallaby, then why not take a look at Eastern gray kangaroo Facts or Agile Wallaby Facts?

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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Fact-checked by Vikhaash Sundararaj

Bachelor of Fine Arts specializing in International Business

Vikhaash Sundararaj picture

Vikhaash SundararajBachelor of Fine Arts specializing in International Business

With a background in International Business Management, having completed his degree at the University of Hull. Vikhaash has volunteered with 'Teach For India' to help students create a monthly newsletter. In his free time, he enjoys sports and was the assistant captain of his school's hockey team. He has also gained marketing experience through an internship at Decathlon Sports India.

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