Why do kangaroos sometimes attempt to harm (or drown) dogs?

Over the years we've brought you many stories of kangaroos attacking or otherwise attempting to harm dogs, and you'll no doubt remember this story from last fall where a kangaroo tried to drown a man's dog. You might have found yourself wondering why.

Turns out, the reason kangaroos do this is because they often perceive dogs as a threat. That's because dogs closely resemble one of the kangaroo's fiercest predators—the dingo. 

Euan Ritchie, who teaches wildlife ecology at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, explained to Live Science that, "This behavior is one way that kangaroos have learnt to survive attacks by dingoes, a native top predator they've coexisted with for many thousands of years." Live Science further explains that kangaroos often use bodies of water to escape from dingoes and will sometimes try to drown a dingo—or a hapless unsuspecting doggo—in the water:

Dingoes (Canis dingo) are Australia's largest land predators and genetically sit somewhere between a wolf and a modern domestic dog. Humans likely brought the ancestors of modern dingoes to the mainland between 5,000 and 8,500 years ago, and the canines gradually settled for a diet of marsupials and reptiles. Modern dogs weren't introduced to Australia until 1788, when the first ships carrying British and Irish convicts arrived on the continent

Dingoes hunt kangaroos in large packs, relaying each other to chase their prey until exhaustion. To kill them, dingoes either bite at their hind legs to slow them down before going for the throat, or approach kangaroos from the side to bite at the neck directly.

Kangaroos seek refuge from dingoes by hopping into the nearest body of water — an escape strategy that "works well for domestic and farm dogs too," Ritchie said. Should a dingo or dog chase after them, the kangaroo might attempt to drown it.

"It's an instinctive behavior that has evolved as a defense against predators," said Graeme Coulson, an honorary principal fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia specializing in kangaroo behavior and ecology. "Males are strong enough to stand up and handle a four-legged dog-paddling adversary," he told Live Science in an email.

Not all kangaroos do this, though. Somehow, the kangaroos in these videos, who are shown playing chase with, massaging, and kissing their doggie friends, didn't get the memo.


As requested, the famous kangaroo vs man, last one got taken down! Will post an update of some sort soon!! #fyp #australia #kangaroo #manvskangaroo

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