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Do Kangaroos Drown People?

G’day mate! Have you ever wondered if kangaroos can drown people? Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll look in-depth at kangaroos and whether they really drown people. 

Do Kangaroos Drown People?

Do kangaroos drown people?

Let’s start by getting one thing straight – kangaroos can perfectly drown humans. Though it’s quite rare, there are documented cases of kangaroos drowning or attempting to drown people. 

How could a kangaroo drown someone? Well, they often do it in self-defence. When threatened, kangaroos will head into the water to escape. If a person follows them, the kangaroo may attempt to drown them by holding their head underwater with their forepaws. Kangaroos are excellent swimmers and can easily overpower a human due to their large muscles in water.

Male kangaroos can stand up to 6 feet 7 inches tall and weigh around 200 pounds. Their powerful hind legs and large clawed feet can deliver severe injuries, even when just trying to escape a perceived threat. There are isolated cases of kangaroos drowning dogs and even horses when defending themselves.

So, while healthy adult kangaroos don’t typically attack people without provocation, they defend themselves vigorously if they feel cornered or threatened. Their preferred method of defence involves heading into the water and attempting to drown their attacker.

Real-Life Cases of Kangaroo Drownings

There are a handful of real-life cases that demonstrate kangaroos do sometimes drown people in self-defence. Here are a few notable examples:

New South Wales Man, 1941

In 1941 New South Wales, a man was found drowned in a creek with clear signs that a large kangaroo had attacked him. The victim had claw marks and bruises consistent with a kangaroo attack. Authorities surmised that the man had tried to catch the kangaroo, prompting it to retreat into the water to escape. When the man followed, the kangaroo likely used its weight and claws to keep the man’s head underwater until he drowned.

Queensland Woman, 1950s 

In an oral account from the 1950s, a woman described nearly being drowned by a large kangaroo in Queensland. She was swimming in a watering hole when a 6-foot-tall red kangaroo buck also entered the water. As she attempted to climb out, the kangaroo put its forepaws on her shoulders and pushed her head underwater. The woman’s husband was nearby and responded to her screams, scaring off the kangaroo before the attack proved fatal.

New South Wales Man, 2016

In 2016, a New South Wales man drowned after likely being pinned underwater by a kangaroo. The man had entered the water to swim or evict the kangaroos. Witnesses reported seeing the man struggling to get one large kangaroo from him. He was then pulled limp and unconscious from the water with scratches and bruises on his body. It appeared the kangaroo had held him underwater, leading to drowning.

So, while rare, it’s clear that kangaroos can drown humans in bodies of water. Most attacks are defensive responses when a person encroaches on a kangaroo’s space in water.

Why Do Kangaroos Drown People?

Kangaroos don’t purposely seek to drown humans, but they will defend themselves vigorously when threatened. Here’s why kangaroos sometimes drown people who get too close:

  • Self-defence – Kangaroos naturally perceive humans as potential threats. The kangaroo will react defensively to protect itself if someone gets too close. Heading into water gives them an advantage over people.
  • Territory defence – Male kangaroos are highly territorial and protective. They will defend their domain aggressively, especially around mating seasons. A human swimming in a waterhole used by a male kangaroo may trigger an attack.
  • Panic response – Kangaroos prefer to flee danger on land by hopping away on their powerful legs. But in water, they panic and lash out at any perceived attacker. Their natural reaction is to drown a pursuer by pinning them underwater. 
  • Mistaken identity – Kangaroos have poor eyesight. If a person suddenly pops up near them in water, they may not distinguish human from predator. Their defensive instinct kicks in to drown the attacker.
  • Proximity – Kangaroos seem most likely to drown people who get very close and attempt to interact with or touch them in water. Staying clear of kangaroos in lakes and rivers will minimize the risk.

So kangaroos don’t intentionally drown people but will use that defence tactic if they feel cornered or threatened. Understanding kangaroo behaviour helps prevent dangerous encounters.

How to Avoid Being Drowned by a Kangaroo

While kangaroo drownings are rare, here are some tips to avoid becoming a statistic when around these amazing marsupials:

  • Give kangaroos plenty of space, especially around bodies of water. Stay at least 30 meters (100 feet) away.
  • Never corner or chase after a kangaroo, even to get a picture. They will defend themselves.
  • Avoid entering waters where kangaroos are present. Wait for them to move on before swimming. 
  • Watch for signs of distress or aggression in kangaroos, such as growling, stomping, or muscular flexing. 
  • Back away slowly and leave the area if a kangaroo seems irritated by your presence.
  • Never approach a female kangaroo with a joey; they are very protective. 
  • Be extra cautious around large, male red kangaroos – they are the most aggressive.
  • NEVER attempt to interact with or touch a kangaroo in water – this is often seen as a threat.

Using respectful caution around kangaroos, especially in water, will help avoid tragic encounters. While drownings are rare, following these tips will minimize any risk.

Are Kangaroo Drownings a Common Cause of Death in Australia?

While kangaroos can drown humans, this cause of death is still extremely rare in Australia. Some key facts:

  • On average, only around 2-3 kangaroo drowning deaths are reported per decade in Australia.
  • Kangaroos account for less than 0.5% of unnatural deaths in Australia annually – virtually insignificant.
  • You are over 30 times more likely to drown in the ocean than be drowned by a kangaroo in Australia. 
  • Only two kangaroo attack deaths were reported between 2000-2013 in Australia.
  • Horses, cows, dogs, snakes, jellyfish, sharks and crocodiles are far more likely to cause death than kangaroos. 
  • No kangaroo drowning deaths have been reported in over 15 years in Australia.

So, while the odds aren’t zero, kangaroos drowning people is extremely uncommon. You are far more likely to perish driving to the beach or being stung by a bee than drowning at the hands of a kangaroo. But respect for wildlife safety is always wise around Australian fauna.

Famous Cases of “Killer Kangaroos”

There are a handful of well-known cases where kangaroos were portrayed as bloodthirsty killers. But upon closer inspection, these instances were sensationalized media stories rather than ruthless marsupials. Some of the most famous “killer kangaroo” reports include:

The Demon of Kangaroo Island

In 1957, newspaper stories told of a 7-foot tall kangaroo that emerged from the bush to terrorize South Australia’s Kangaroo Island residents. While the rogue kangaroo did attack several people and pets, injuries were minor, and no deaths occurred. But the media played up the hysteria for dramatic effect.

Killer Kangaroos Invade England! 

In the 1930s, several British newspapers reported marauding mobs of bloodthirsty kangaroos overrunning the English countryside. These escaped zoo animals were attacking farms and killing livestock across the land. Of course, the stories were completely fictitious – no evidence exists that these newspaper tales were real. But they did stoke public fears over the exotic beasts. 

Night of the Killer Kangaroo

In 1952, in New Mexico, a newspaper related the terrifying tale of a bus driver and passengers attacked by a large kangaroo under the light of a full moon. The driver was reportedly choked, and passengers were slashed by the “demon marsupial”. But, upon police investigation, no evidence or injuries were found. The imaginative yarn sprung from the mind of a mischievous reporter.  

While kangaroos can be dangerous if provoked, tales of them hunting humans are overblown media creations. So don’t believe everything you read! Care and respect for wildlife are important, but there’s no evidence kangaroos purposefully maul people.