The ‘Red Kangaroo’ (Osphranter rufus, also Macropus rufus) is the largest living marsupial in the world, with the male ‘Red’ weighing up to 85 kg. The official symbol of Australia, they are commonly found throughout central Australia, preferring to graze on open plains country rather than rocky hills. They are marvellously adapted to life in the arid region, existing in small numbers, unlike western Queensland and New South Wales, where they can be found in large mobs.

The male Red Kangaroo is rusty red in colour. The female red kangaroo here in Central Australia is a reddish colour too, whilst elsewhere they are a blue grey colour and are often mistaken for a Grey Kangaroo.

Red Kangaroo with joey in pouch (Osphranter rufus)
Red Kangaroo with joey in pouch (Osphranter rufus)

Other features of a Red Kangaroo are the boxed shape head, white stripes on the sides of the muzzle, long pointed ears and heavy eyelids. The tail on a Red is light in colour to the rest of the body.

The Red Kangaroo used to belongs the Sub genus Osphranter that includes:

  • Antilopine kangaroo (Osphranter antilopinus)
  • Black wallaroo (Osphranter bernardus)
  • Common wallaroo (Osphranter robustus)
  • Red kangaroo (Osphranter rufus)

and two extinct Sub genus

  • Macropus pavana
  • Macropus thor

In 2019, a taxonomic restructuring in based on genetic analysis, promoted Osphranter back to genus level, redefining the red kangaroo, among others, as species within the genus Osphranter.

Red Kangaroos with joey (Osphranter rufus)
Red Kangaroos with joey (Osphranter rufus)
  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Infraclass: Marsupialia
  • Order: Diprotodontia
  • Family: Macropodidae
  • Genus: Osphranter
  • Species: O. rufus
  • Binomial name: Osphranter rufus


  1. Taxonomic and Phylogenetic Status of Living and Fossil Kangaroos and Wallabies of the Genus Macropus Shaw (Macropodidae: Marsupialia), with a New Subgeneric Name for the Larger Wallabies; L Dawson and T Flannery; Australian Journal of Zoology 33(4) 473 – 498; Published: 1985