Are All Types of Kangaroos Nocturnal?

By Michele Domingue

Although many kangaroos are catagorized as nocturnal, most are actually diurnal. This means that they are active during the day. Kangaroos are most active before sunrise and sunset but it is not uncommon to find them out during the day as well. Natives to Australia, many nocturnal and diurnal kangaroos still reside there. Species such as the Red Kangaroo and Tree Kangaroo are mainly nocturnal whereas the Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroo are mainly diurnal.

Red Kangaroo

Weighing up to 200 lbs., the Red Kangaroo is the largest marsupial. It can hop at 60 miles per hour, up to 25 feet in a single hop, and 10 feet high. The Red Kangaroo is active mainly at night, making it nocturnal. It does appear during daylight hours but prefers the night for the cooler temperatures. It is an herbivore, eating only plants. If water is unavailable the Red Kangaroo will live off of the moisture in the green grass. Found in open plains, the Red Kangaroo prefers the dry interior land.

Tree Kangaroo

Residing in Papua, New Guinea and the rainforests of Queensland, the Tree Kangaroo is the only kangaroo to live in a tree. These clumsy nocturnal creatures -- which, with their dark brown fur, look more like baby bears than kangaroos -- prefer the cool, wet nights of the forest. Tree Kangaroos have a short bounce of only around 10 feet long and five feet high. Their sharp claws are designed for climbing.

Eastern and Western Gray Kangaroo

The Eastern and Western Gray Kangaroos are the most commonly seen of the species in Australia. This is because rather than being nocturnal, these kangaroos are diurnal -- active most during early morning and early evening hours more so than at night like nocturnal kangaroos. During cooler weather, the Eastern and Western Gray Kangaroo is often seen in midday in the moist forests of eastern and western Australia. These kangaroos have a body shape similar to the Red Kangaroo but have a thick, gray coat. Being diurnal allows the Eastern and Western Gray Kangaroos to eat during the cooler hours and rest in the shrub-land during the day, avoiding the danger of becoming prey.

Kangaroo Sleep Facts

Kangaroos sleep similarly to humans, on their side with their head tilted up. During warmer weather, the marsupials will dig holes to sleep in to keep cool. Nocturnal kangaroos have special night vision allowing them to see well at night. This is because the eyes have a distinct auditory nerve. Sleeping in groups called mobs, kangaroos are social creatures even during periods of sleep.