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Kangaroo vs. Wallaby: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 23, 2023
Kangaroo and wallaby are both marsupials from Australia; kangaroos are generally larger and have longer legs than wallabies.

Key Differences

Kangaroo is a well-known marsupial native to Australia, recognized globally for its strong hind legs and powerful tail. Wallaby, on the other hand, is like a smaller cousin of the kangaroo, also hailing from Australia but generally lesser-known outside the continent.
While both kangaroo and wallaby belong to the same taxonomic family, they differ in size. Kangaroos can stand over 6 feet tall, with some species reaching up to 8 feet. Wallabies, in contrast, are more diminutive, with most species measuring between 12 to 41 inches in height.
A notable distinction between kangaroo and wallaby is their habitat preference. Kangaroos are often found in more open landscapes, such as grasslands and deserts, allowing them to make use of their long legs for speed. Wallabies, however, tend to inhabit dense forests and bushlands, requiring agility more than speed.
Another difference lies in their physical appearance, especially in terms of coloration and leg proportions. Kangaroos usually have more uniform coloring, whereas wallabies often boast intricate patterns and brighter colors. Furthermore, the kangaroo's longer legs are built for speed, while the wallaby's compact legs are ideal for navigating through thick vegetation.

Comparison Chart


Larger, up to 8 feet in some species
Smaller, typically 12 to 41 inches


Open landscapes like grasslands
Dense forests and bushlands

Leg Proportions

Longer legs for speed
Shorter, compact legs for agility


More uniform coloring
Often has patterns and brighter colors

Typical Behavior

Faster, adapted for open spaces
Agile, adapted for dense vegetation

Kangaroo and Wallaby Definitions


A term sometimes used to describe something uniquely Australian.
The kangaroo court is an idiom, but its origins are not directly linked to the animal.


A smaller marsupial relative of the kangaroo native to Australia.
The wallaby is not as well-known internationally as its larger cousin, the kangaroo.


A symbol representing Australia in various contexts.
The kangaroo is often used as an emblem for Australian sports teams.


An animal that, like the kangaroo, carries its young in a pouch.
The baby wallaby, called a joey, peered out from its mother's pouch.


A large marsupial native to Australia known for hopping on its powerful hind legs.
The kangaroo is a symbol of Australia and appears on its coat of arms.


An animal often found in dense Australian forests and bushlands.
If you're hiking in the Australian bush, you might spot a wallaby hopping by.


An animal recognized for its pouch where it carries its young.
The mother kangaroo carries her joey in her pouch for months.


A marsupial with distinct patterns and often vibrant coloration.
The rock wallaby has a unique and intricate fur pattern.


An animal that plays a significant role in indigenous Australian culture and mythology.
Many Aboriginal stories feature the kangaroo as a central character.


A creature that plays a role in some indigenous Australian stories and traditions.
Aboriginal tales sometimes highlight the adventures of a clever wallaby.


Any of various large herbivorous marsupials of the family Macropodidae of Australia and adjacent islands, having short forelimbs, large hind limbs used for leaping, and a long tapered tail.


Any of various marsupials of the family Macropodidae of Australia and adjacent islands, resembling kangaroos but generally smaller.


Any of several species of marsupial; usually smaller and stockier than kangaroos


Any one of numerous species of kangaroos belonging to the genus Halmaturus, native of Australia and Tasmania, especially the smaller species, as the brush kangaroo (Halmaturus Bennettii) and the pademelon (Halmaturus thetidis). The wallabies chiefly inhabit the wooded district and bushy plains.


Any of various small or medium-sized kangaroos often brightly colored


Are both kangaroo and wallaby native to Australia?

Yes, both kangaroo and wallaby are native to Australia.

Which is typically larger, a kangaroo or a wallaby?

The kangaroo is generally larger than the wallaby.

Do both kangaroo and wallaby carry their young in pouches?

Yes, both have pouches where they carry and nurse their young.

Where can you typically find a wallaby in the wild?

Wallabies are often found in dense forests and bushlands.

Do wallabies have brighter colors than kangaroos?

Often, wallabies display intricate patterns and brighter colors compared to kangaroos.

Is the term "kangaroo court" directly related to the animal?

No, the term "kangaroo court" is an idiom and not directly related to the animal.

Is the kangaroo a symbol of Australia?

Yes, the kangaroo is a recognized symbol of Australia.

Are there conservation efforts for kangaroos and wallabies?

Yes, there are conservation efforts for certain species of both kangaroos and wallabies.

Do both kangaroo and wallaby play roles in Aboriginal mythology?

Yes, both animals appear in various Aboriginal stories and traditions.

Are kangaroos and wallabies friendly to humans?

While they can be curious, it's essential to remember they're wild animals and should be approached with caution.

Are kangaroo and wallaby meat consumed in Australia?

Yes, both kangaroo and wallaby meat are consumed in Australia, though kangaroo is more common.

Which animal is more agile in dense vegetation, kangaroo or wallaby?

The wallaby is more agile in dense vegetation due to its compact build.

Are there different species of kangaroos and wallabies?

Yes, there are multiple species of both kangaroos and wallabies.

Do kangaroos and wallabies have a similar diet?

Both primarily eat grass and plants, but their specific diets can vary based on species and habitat.

Is the kangaroo more recognizable globally than the wallaby?

Yes, the kangaroo is more widely recognized globally compared to the wallaby.

Which animal, kangaroo or wallaby, typically lives in more open landscapes?

The kangaroo typically inhabits more open landscapes like grasslands.

Can kangaroos and wallabies be found in zoos outside Australia?

Yes, many zoos around the world house kangaroos and wallabies.

Do both kangaroo and wallaby belong to the same taxonomic family?

Yes, both are part of the Macropodidae family.

Can you find wallabies outside of Australia?

While native to Australia, wallabies have been introduced to other areas, like New Zealand.

Which animal, kangaroo or wallaby, is faster in open spaces?

The kangaroo, with its longer legs, is faster in open spaces.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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