What’s Up With All the Kangaroos on the Loose in Texas? (2024)

A neighborhood in the North Texas town of Prosper had an unusual visitor earlier this month: a male kangaroo named Jax escaped from a nearby backyard, where he had been raised as a pet. Jax’s owner had to coax him back home with a bottle of milk. Less than a week later, another pet kangaroo named Nigel escaped his backyard home in Granbury and went on the lam for two days before hopping home. These are just the latest in a slew of kangaroo escapes across the state over the last few years, including in Mercedes, San Marcos, and Lumberton.

All of which, honestly, raises the question: You can keep a kangaroo as a pet in Texas? And how many are there, anyway?

The answer is yes and, it turns out, quite a few. Texas is one of thirteen states that allow people to own kangaroos as an exotic pet, and the species is particularly popular here, in part due to the similarities between Texas’s environment and their hot, arid Australian home. That’s not to mention our lenient exotic animal laws that allow hunting and owning species that would be off-limits in other states.

“Texas, there’s probably more [kangaroos] than most states,” says Cassidy Jagger, who owns a ranch for all kinds of Australian animals in Howe, in Grayson County. She said she gets phone calls every day from folks wondering about bringing one home as a pet.

Jagger’s ranch, Roos2U, offers educational events like classroom visits and field trips for children to get up close with kangaroos, wallabies, and other animals from down under. She also organizes volunteer trips to Australia to help rescue and care for injured wildlife during bushfire season. “That’s the biggest way we can have an impact,” Jagger says.

In Howe, Jagger’s ranch features large chain-link pens where the marsupial residents snack on a special diet of grasses and leaves. Volunteers regularly swap out water in blue plastic kiddie pools for the animals to cool off in, and large canopies overhead allow shade, especially in the hottest months of the Texas summer.

Australian species adjust to the climate here with varying degrees of success, Jagger said. Red kangaroos, the biggest of the bunch, are used to desert-like conditions.

“Texas is great for them, because they love the heat,” Jagger says. “The weather has a lot to do with it. It’s conducive to having them.”

Still, Jagger and other experts say kangaroos do not make for an easy pet—especially without the proper research or training. Kristen Garrett is an animal outreach coordinator at the Fort Worth Zoo and has worked closely with the red kangaroos there.

“I loved working with them, but I wouldn’t want to take them home with me,” Garrett says. “I would highly recommend against it.”

Kangaroos require highly specialized diets of hay and tree branches that aren’t native to Texas, as well as care that a normal veterinarian would not be able to provide. Exotic animals are costly to care for, Garrett said, especially when adapting them to a new place.

“I wouldn’t bring a polar bear to somewhere just because it’s cold,” Garrett says. “That’s bringing in a species that doesn’t belong.”

She also said the size and physicality of adult kangaroos make them particularly difficult to keep at home. Males can easily grow to six feet tall, and they can jump over backyard fences and reach speeds of over 35 miles per hour.

Elsewhere in the state, breeders do raise joeys to sell as pets—some for as much as $9,500—and some Texans will even buy them for an exotic trophy hunt. At Texas Hunt Lodge in Ingram, clients ask to shoot a kangaroo about once or twice a year. A man who answered the phone there declined to give his name, but said they purchase the animals from other breeders rather than raising the animals on-site.

“You gotta have the right client who doesn’t want to fly to Australia to shoot a kangaroo,” the man said. “It’s just someone who wants this trophy on their wall.”

That kind of trophy-taking is part of what has caused a crisis for the species in Australia, Jagger says. Red kangaroos aren’t endangered or threatened but are hunted for their meat. Kangaroo leather is used to make shoes and other products. In her conservation efforts, she works to end the practice.

Besides the ranch in Howe, Jagger is the global director of a group called the Education and Conservation Society of Macropodidae, the scientific family of marsupials like kangaroos. Last weekend, the society held its annual convention in Gainesville, where attendees listened to sessions about nutrition, veterinary care, and husbandry of the species.

She said the group doesn’t advocate for people to keep them as pets, but does work with breeders and others that keep kangaroos here and elsewhere in the U.S. to help conserve the species.

“There’s nothing wrong with having a pet in your life that’s different as long as you’re educated,” Jagger says. “The majority of the time, it’s not a good idea. They are still wild animals.”

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What’s Up With All the Kangaroos on the Loose in Texas? (2024)


Why are there so many kangaroos in Texas? ›

Here's the real deal: Kangaroos are legal to own in Texas (with a permit, of course). So, some folks have decided to add a bit of Aussie flair to their ranches. There have been occasional sightings of kangaroos on the loose.

Are there any kangaroos in the United States? ›

The four species of kangaroos (along with their smaller cousins the wallaroo and wallaby) are native only to Australia and the nearby island of New Guinea.

Are kangaroos legal in Texas? ›

You don't get to see such an unusual animal in your hometown daily! This is undoubtedly a rare sighting in Texas, as kangaroos are not native. Owning a kangaroo is legal in Texas, as it is in 12 other states.

Which state has the most kangaroos? ›

Queensland by far has the most roos at over 20 million of the hoppers across all 4 major species (red, western and eastern grey, and wallaroo). But then Queensland is the second largest state but is entirely semi arid and savannah bushland while Western Australia has large areas of desert.

Why are kangaroos increasing? ›

Kangaroo numbers have increased substantially since European settlement, with some populations now overabundant. Many kangaroos have benefitted from increased access to water, grazing land and the removal of their main predator, the dingo.

What states do kangaroos live in? ›

The kangaroo is endemic to Australia. The species is also found in Tasmania and nearby islands. Other marsupials can be found in some parts of Asia and the Americas, though the continent of Australia has by far the most, both in terms of species and population numbers.

Did they release kangaroos in the United States? ›

Buckrail reports the Wyoming Wild Game Department and the Wyoming Migration Initiative have released the first of 5 batches of 90 Antilopine Kangaroos. Since “Antilopine” means “antelope-like,” researchers want to learn how the kangaroos do in the antelope's habitat.

Can you get kangaroo meat in the US? ›

Yes, we do have Kangaroo Meat in the State of California and we ship Ground Kangaroo Meat from State of California to all over the USA. Kangaroos are open range animals and the meat we eat is not farmed. In fact, kangaroos exist over extensive pastoral areas of Australia and they are harvested in their own environment.

Can kangaroos survive in cold climates? ›

Kangaroos and wallabies are surprisingly hardy in cold temperatures. They will adapt if they can aclimatize over the course of the fall and grow a good winter coat.

What animal is protected in Texas? ›

Protected Wildlife Species in Texas
Nonmigratory Game BirdsMigratory Game Birds
Wild TurkeysWhite-fronted Doves
Lesser Prairie ChickensWhite-winged Doves
Pheasants (all varieties)Mourning Doves
Gambel's QuailRails (Sora, Virginia, King, Clapper)
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What animals are illegal to hunt in Texas? ›

No person may kill or attempt to injure a dangerous wild animal (African or Asiatic lion, tiger, leopard, cheetah, hyena, bear, elephant, wolf, or rhinoceros, or any subspecies or hybrid of these animals) that is held in captivity in this state or that is released from captivity in this state for the purpose of being ...

How long do kangaroos live? ›

Red Kangaroo Fact Sheet
Life span:Average 8 years in the wild; up to 25 years under human care
Gestation:Young are born 33 days after mating, and spend a year in the pouch before weaning.
Number of young at birth:Usually only one at a time
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How fast can a kangaroo run? ›

The comfortable hopping speed for a kangaroo is about 21–26 km/h (13–16 mph), but speeds of up to 71 km/h (44 mph) can be attained over short distances, while it can sustain a speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) for nearly 2 km (1.2 mi).

What is a male kangaroo called? ›

Kangaroos are famous for their forward-opening pouch, where the joey (baby kangaroo) develops and suckles. A female kangaroo is known as a 'flyer' or a 'doe' and a male kangaroo a 'buck' or a 'boomer' (hence the nickname of the Australian men's basketball team, the Boomers).

What country eats the most kangaroo meat? ›

It's not a staple food, but it is available in some restaurants and can be purchased in supermarkets. Additionally, kangaroo meat is exported to other countries, but its consumption is more common in Australia due to the abundance of kangaroos in the country.

Do people hunt kangaroos in Texas? ›

Kangaroo Hunting Details

There are no seasonal restrictions on hunting Big Trophy Kangaroo in Texas, which makes the Kangaroo suitable trophy year-round. We typically let our hunters choose the method of hunting Trophy Kangaroo that they prefer.

Why is the kangaroo population so high? ›

A period of wet conditions throughout the country has allowed vegetation to thrive and caused a boom of new wildlife. In addition to this, human eradication of predators such as dingos and the thylacine, a marsupial dog, means that kangaroo populations are not kept in check by nature.

Where did they release kangaroos in the US? ›

Wyomingites could be seeing new wildlife soon. Buckrail reports the Wyoming Wild Game Department and the Wyoming Migration Initiative have released the first of 5 batches of 90 Antilopine Kangaroos.

Are there any wild kangaroos in North America? ›

As far as conventional science is concerned, kangaroos of any and all variety are endemic to the Australian continent. They are not found anywhere else in the world. But if dubious reports of the elusive phantom kangaroo are to be believed, the iconic marsupials can be found all over the world.


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