Kangaroo Talk

Brown kangaroo looking at the camera on a grass field during day time

Voyage into the wild… to chat?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Are Dr. Doolittle and Disney princesses the ONLY ones who can talk with animals? Of course not! All pet owners can understand their fluffy friends – and vice versa. But what about the wild side?

Alan McElligott from University of Roehampton in the UK and colleagues ventured into the wild!

The team trained eleven wild kangaroos to get a tasty snack out of an open box. Then, they put a lid on the box. The ‘roos could still SMELL the treat, but couldn’t grab it! What did they do?!

Most kangaroos looked directly at the person who put the food into the box. Some even switched their gaze from the box to the person and back. Translation? “G’day mate — could you give me a hand?”

Turns out human-animal communications are NOT just a result of domestication. Wild animals try to chat too!

Hopping around the world in search of a friend? You might wanna try the land Down Under!

References: McElligott, A. G., O’Keeffe, K. H., & Green, A. C. (2020). Kangaroos display gazing and gaze alternations during an unsolvable problem task. Biology Letters, 16(12), 20200607. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2020.0607