Don’t bring your dogs into kangaroo territory. Yeah, these Australian powerhouses have a well-deserved reputation for getting jumpy around man’s best friend. This one is even trying to drown the poor little fella. And it’s not just your dog who’s in trouble. You might be next.
The last fatal kangaroo attack happened in September 2022. A 77-year-old man was found badly injured on his property by a relative. The responsible for the attack was a kangaroo the man was likely keeping as a pet. The animal was preventing the paramedics from reaching the man, so police had to shot the kangaroo dead. But it was too late for the man, who died at the scene.
Is there anything you can do to avoid such a fate? Follow these next tips so you don’t end up trampled to death by an angry mob.
6. Chasing the Sugar Dragon
Many people go to Australia with the sole purpose of meeting kangaroos. They’re kind of a big deal. Whether in a petting zoo or in the wild, you should never, ever feed them. I don’t care how cute they look. First of all, these are wild animals and they must be able to find their own food to survive. And more importantly, giving them food can hook them on the stuff. And this addiction can lead them to violence. Especially when given human food, such as potato chips or carrots. Yes, carrots. That’s because these vegetables are high in sugar. Once they taste one, they’re going to chase that sugar rush again and again. Trust me, you don’t want to be in the way of a desperate sweet tooth kangaroo.
5. Keep your distance
Unless you are in a petting zoo next to a guide, you better stand back. Most of the time, a kangaroo will hop away if you approach it in its habitat. But if you get near its babies or make it feel cornered, it could turn aggressive. Some kangaroos could have been raised in captivity and then released into the wild. They could bite and scratch you while demanding food. On the other hand, they might not see you as a threat and start playing with you. And they like to play rough. How would you like a play date with this guy?
4. Don’t be an alpha
It’s all fun and games until the kangaroo starts flexing. If the marsupial aims to fight you, it’ll begin to show dominance by pulling out grass, rubbing its chest on the ground, and tensing its muscles. If this happens, don’t try to be a Chad. You need to act submissive. If you don’t, this kangaroo will beat the living soul out of you. Crouch down, avoid eye contact, and back away. Let out a short, low cough or grunt. This will tell the kangaroo you’re tapping out. It’s how kangaroos admit inferiority to a more powerful male.
3. Don’t run
Considering running away? Not your best option.Red kangaroos can hop at speeds of almost 60 km/h (37 mph) and grey ones are known to reach 48 km/h (30 mph) in short bursts. Your best bet is to slowly retreat, just make sure you don’t turn your back. Try to find a tree, fence or anything you can put between yourself and the roo. If the kangaroo approaches, turn your body sideways, exposing a narrow profile to the animal and protecting your face and organs. But if the marsupial attacks you, drop to the ground in a fetal position. Kangaroos are vegetarians, so they’re not trying to eat you. Unless you have a carrot in your pocket, in which case …
2. Don’t scream
In 2017, near Melbourne, 54-year-old Debbie Urquhart went jogging in Westerfold Park. Her morning exercise was violently interrupted by a surprise kangaroo attack. The massive creature knocked the woman down, pushed her down with its back feet and clawed at her. Urquhart protected her head and stomach using her arms, which resulted in serious injuries. Debbie was screaming during the attack. The more she screamed, the more the kangaroo went for her. After about a minute, Urquhart stopped yelling and the attack ended. It’s unclear why the loud noise made it angrier, but we know kangaroos like to assert dominance, and screaming probably didn’t seem very submissive to this one. Debbie hid in the grass and crawled away. Then she went home to her husband who took her to the hospital where they treated her injuries. This attack was hard to prevent, as hundreds of people go jogging at that park and the kangaroo came out of nowhere.
1. Pretend they’re Michael Myers
In 2018, in Canberra, bus driver Billy Willox was on his way to work when he spotted what he thought was a dead grey kangaroo. Willox approach the marsupial and checked if there was a baby kangaroo, or joey, in its pouch. Before he could react, the animal sprung back to life and attacked Billy’s face with its claws. Shocked and dazed, he managed to drive a short distance to his house.
His wife was horrified to see Billy’s face dripping with blood around the eyes. When he got to the hospital, doctors found his face ligaments and skin tissue torn. Billy was given a tetanus shot and had to undergo plastic surgery. Luckily, his eyesight wasn’t affected and he went back to work after two weeks. A park ranger from the area said that these attacks aren’t uncommon among injured animals. They can spring into action with great speed and cause some serious damage during their last moments. Kinda like an animal kingdom Michael Myers. We know what you’re thinking, Australia looks like a dangerous place. And you know what? You’re right to be scared.
- Kangaroo launches savage attack on family in Queensland (2018). BBC News
- Kangaroos attacking carrot-bearing tourists spark warnings. Illmer, A. (2018). BBC News
- How Do You Defend Yourself Against a Rampaging Kangaroo? Palmer, B. (2012). Slate.
- Kangaroo Attacks (2023). Amazing Australia.
- Kangaroo Fact Sheet (2012). PBS