Liberal Arts Blog — Australia II: The Kangaroo Versus The Wallaby, The Koala, And The Wombat

John Muresianu
5 min readJun 9, 2024

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Liberal Arts Blog — Sunday is the Joy of Humor, Food, Travel, Practical Life Tips, and Random Stuff Day

Today’s Topic: Australia II: the kangaroo versus the wallaby, the koala, and the wombat

Last time, a little Australian geography from the Torres Straits and the Timor Sea to the Great Australian Bight. And a little history from Ned Kelly, the outlaw, to Donald Bradman the super- natural cricketeer. Today, a little refresher course on iconic Australian wildlife.

What is your favorite Australian species? Any encounters worth sharing? Say with an emu? lyre bird? kookabura? Tasmanian devil? quokka?

Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

THE KANGAROO (6 ft to 8 ft) VERSUS THE WALLABY (rarely over 3 ft) Ever heard of “embryonic diapause”? (below female kangaroo with her joey) — Don’t they look like big, weird rabbits? But they’re not related. Rabbits are “lagomorphs” not marsupials.

1. Kangaroos live on open grassy fields, Wallabies in forests.

2. Wallabies are more colorful and have many more species.

3. Teeth: wallabies have flat teeth for grinding, kangaroos curved teeth for slicing.

NB: Kangaroos and wallabies are macropods which means “large feet.” Kangaroos and wallabies can not mate.

Names for adult males: bucks, jacks, boomers. Adult females: does, flyers, jills. Groups of wallabies: mobs, courts, or troupes.

“Females have one young annually, however they’re able to keep embryos in a dormant state (‘embryonic diapause’). until the first joey leaves the pouch. They can have a joey at their feet, one in the pouch and another in diapause all at the same time.” Wow!

There are more kangaroos and wallabies than humans in Australia — over 40 million versus 20 million and there is the danger of a further boom in the population to 60 million which has led to calls to shoot them before they starve to death. (Second link below.)

THE KOALA IS NOT A BEAR — IT IS A MARSUPIAL THAT SLEEPS IN EUCALPYTUS TREES 18 TO 22 HOURS PER DAY IN EASTERN AND SOUTHEASTERN AUSTRALIA

1. They are a solitary rather than a social creature.

2. Loss of habitat has led them to be classified a “vulnerable” species.

3. Koalas are an iconic symbol of Australia leading to “koala diplomacy” analogous to “panda diplomacy” with respect to China. (See fifth link below).

NB: “To aid in digesting as much as three pounds of leaves daily, the koala has an intestinal pouch (cecum) about 7 feet long where symbiotic bacteria degrade the tannins and other toxic and complex substances abundant in eucalyptus. This diet is relatively poor in nutrients and provides the koala with little spare energy, so the animal spends long hours simply sitting or sleeping in tree forks, where it is exposed to the elements but insulated by thick fur. Although placid most of the time, koalas produce loud, hollow grunts.”

THE WOMBAT — also a marsupial! closest relative is the koala! the largest burrower in the world!

1. “Wombats dig extensive burrow systems with their rodent-like front teeth and powerful claws.”

2. “One distinctive adaptation of wombats is their backward pouch. The advantage of a backward-facing pouch is that when digging, the wombat does not gather soil in its pouch over its young.”

3. “Although mainly crepuscular and nocturnal, wombats may also venture out to feed on cool or overcast days.”

NB: “They are not commonly seen, but leave ample evidence of their passage, treating fences as minor inconveniences to be gone through or under.” Other species use wombat burrows as refuges during wildfires. (8th link below)

Kangaroo — Wikipedia

A kangaroo boom could be looming in Australia. Some say the solution is to shoot them before they starve to death.

Wallaby — Wikipedia

Macropodidae — Wikipedia

Koala — Wikipedia

Koala, facts and photos

Wombat — Wikipedia

How Wombats May Save Other Animals From Wildfires

https://www.britannica.com/animal/wombat

Amazing! Bird Sounds From The Lyre Bird — David Attenborough — BBC Wildlife

Kookaburra — Wikipedia

7 Amazing Australian Species

Wallaby vs Kangaroo | Difference Between Wallaby and Kangaroo

Lagomorpha — Wikipedia

https://www.quora.com/Why-do-wild-rabbits-and-kangaroos-look-the-same#:~:text=How%20are%20rabbits%20and%20kangaroos,lagomorphs%20and%20kangaroos%20are%20marsupials.

Convergent evolution — Wikipedia

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

My spin — then periodically review, re-rank, and exchange your list with those you love. I call this the “Orion Exchange” because seven is about as many as any human can digest at a time. Game?

LAST FOUR YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED THEMATICALLY:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

ATTACHMENTS BELOW:

#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, (11/17/20)

#3 Israel-Palestine Handout

NB: Palestine Orion (Decision) — let’s exchange Orions, let’s find Rumi’s field (“Beyond all ideas of right and wrong, there is a field. Meet me there” Rumi, 13 century Persian Sufi mystic)

YOUR TURN

Anything miscellaneous to share? Best trip you ever took in your life? Practical life tips? Random facts? Jokes?

Or, what is the best cartoon you have seen lately? or in the last 10 years? or the last 50?

Or what is your favorite holiday food? Main course? Dessert? Fondest food memories? Favorite foods to eat or prepare?

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your mind a memory that might otherwise disappear. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.