Kangaroos as Pets: Cute or Cruel?

Kangaroos can't be housetrained, and they can catch diseases from other household pets. Photo: Kangaroo Protection Coalition

ABC affiliate WAAY News has reported on a story about the Turk family in Sardis City, Alabama, who keeps three kangaroos as pets.

Rolando and Roxie, 6-month-old red kangaroos, were bred in Texas; Soe is a 3-month-old kangaroo bred in Ohio. The Turks dress them in cute little T-shirts and treat them just like pet dogs or cats and take them out to events in the community.

According to WAAY reporter Kyle Burger, the kangaroos live in the barn but spend a good deal of time in the house, which I find a bit alarming.

“They can be very large, they can leap 25 feet long, six feet high,” said Turk. “So they can cover a lot of ground at 40-45 miles per hour in speed when they’re running.”

One would think that since kangaroos seem to enjoy having a lot of space to boing-boing around in, they might not be the best choice of pets, no matter how cute they are in their little T-shirts and diapers or how much they love their families.

I don’t know how the size of the Turks’ property, but I feel safe in assuming they don’t live on thousands of acres of arid, uninhabited grassland that has been terraformed to simulate the roos’ native Australian habitat.

Apparently I’m not the only one who finds the idea of kangaroos as pets alarming. According to the Kangaroo Protection Coalition:

In the United States and Canada, red and grey kangaroos are also bred for pets, and for sale to zoos and wildlife parks. Reports we receive indicate that the death toll is very high amongst these animals, as quite often they are restrained in small yards. Few overseas veterinarians know anything about them, and macropods do succumb very easily to stress-related diseases.

Wallabies and kangaroos cannot be housetrained, nor should they mix with domestic animals; they can catch diseases off them. Wallabies and kangaroos need a very big grassed area to live in, and company of their own kind.

Although the article didn’t say how much the Turks paid for their three roos, males usually cost about $2,000 and females go for $3,000, about the same as a fancy pet store maltese.

What do you think about keeping kangaroos as pets? Is it cruel? Do you think that it’s fine as long as the kangaroos seem happy? Share your opinion in the comments section.

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