Pet Kangaroos: Is It Legal & Is It A Good Idea?

Written by Hannah Ward
Published: January 4, 2022
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Kangaroos are large herbivores that are distinguished by their powerful jumping and the pouches that they carry their babies in.  They roam around vast expanses of land, grazing and browsing as they like.  There are all different types of exotic pets, and keeping a kangaroo as a pet is often considered to be a thrilling and exciting idea.  But do they make good pets?  Join us as we discover whether it is legal and if it’s a good idea!

Although the idea of having a kangaroo as a pet can be thrilling, it’s not always legal

Pawel Papis/Shutterstock.com

Although kangaroos are native to Australia, it’s not uncommon for people as far away as America to want to keep one as a pet.  But is it legal?  The honest answer is actually both yes and no – it is legal to keep a kangaroo as a pet in some places, but not in others.  In most of the places that it is legal to keep a kangaroo there are special permits or restrictions that are required.

In kangaroos native Australia the only place that it is legal to keep a one as a pet is in the state of Victoria, but even then a permit is required.  However, in the Northern Territories kangaroos are classed as a protected species.  In Tasmania, it is legal to hunt them, but not to own them.

There are more areas in the US that it is legal to keep a kangaroo as a pet – thirteen states in fact.  In Illinois, Idaho, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin it is legal to keep a kangaroo as a pet, while in the rest of the US it is completely illegal.  

A very small number of these allow kangaroos to be kept without permits. However, it sometimes depends on when and where the kangaroo was purchased.  Despite this, most of the states listed require a permit to keep a kangaroo as a pet.  Quite often these permits are expensive and have a lot of restrictions that come with them.  In some states they cannot be sold or kept for commercial purposes even with a permit. However, in others they restrict the importation or breeding of them.

Is a Pet Kangaroo a Good Idea?

Pet kangaroos are require a lot of care to keep them happy and healthy

Rileypie – Public Domain

Legalities aside, while it might seem like a good idea to keep a kangaroo as a pet, there are a few things to consider first.  The truth is, just because you can keep a kangaroo as a pet in some places, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is actually a good idea.

Space

For a start, they are wild animals and need a lot of land to roam around.  Kangaroos are used to travelling for many miles every day in search of food.  Red kangaroos can reach speeds of more than 40 mph and their average leap is 25 to 30 feet long.  So, this means that kangaroos are really not a good pet for someone who has limited outdoor space.  They’re also used to living in large groups of up to fifty animals – known as mobs. This means they should ideally have company of their own kind.

Fencing

As well as needing a fair amount of space to roam around, pet kangaroos need some pretty good fencing to keep them in.  Kangaroos can cover more than 30 feet with one leap, but they can also jump around 10 feet high too.  So, standard garden fencing just isn’t going to be high enough to keep a kangaroo in.  Not only that, but kangaroos are pretty strong too. Therefore, any fencing needs to be robust enough to stop them breaking out.

Temperament

Kangaroo males boxing on the shore of a lake
Kangaroos often fight and can be aggressive

Breathes/Shutterstock.com

Lets not forget the fact that kangaroos are wild animals, and – whether bred in captivity or not – they still retain all of their natural instincts.  Kangaroos are well known for their impressive fights and boxing matches, and can be incredibly dangerous.  They are large animals and can weigh up to 200 pounds. Kangaroos have five sharp, curved claws on each front paw, and three claws on their hind feet.  The middle claw is the longest and possibly the most dangerous.

When kangaroos box they often “kick box”.  They do this by leaning back and resting their weight on their tail while they kick out at their opponent with their hind legs.  When they do this they can inflict serious wounds with that middle claw – it is so sharp that it can even disembowel the kangaroo they are fighting.  It’s important to remember than even pet kangaroos are strong and can lash out at times. Therefore, it would be seriously unwise to be on the receiving end of one of their blows.

Care & Well-Being

As kangaroos are wild animals it’s important to remember that they also require specialized care.  If they become sick or injured then they need a vet who has some experience of wild animals and an understanding of kangaroos.  Kangaroos are easily susceptible to stress-related illnesses so their care and well-being isn’t necessarily a straightforward thing.

As well as having plans in place for a vet, kangaroos day to day needs need to be met too.  Kangaroos are wild animals and herbivores. They are used to travelling around and eating a range of grass, leaves, and shrubs.  However, if they’re a pet then they’re going to rely on the owner to provide their food for them.  Pet kangaroos will eat a lot of food as they are large animals. Also, as they’re not your typical pet, that food would probably need to be specially ordered in for them.

kangaroo on the beach
kangaroo on the beach
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About the Author

I have been writing professionally for several years with a focus on animals and wildlife. I love spending time in the outdoors and when not writing I can be found on the farm surrounded by horses, dogs, sheep, and pigs.

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