When kangaroos attack… your fences

We had a bit of a run-in last night with a mob of kangaroos hell-bent on wrecking the fencing and spooking the horses and waking up the bloody rooster. There were six, seven roos, maybe more. As usual, a small female and joey panicked and couldn’t figure out how to get back out of the paddock. I had gone outside to turn off the veggie patch retic and just about packed my dacks when I heard rustling close by.

Turns out it was a couple of startled roos, high-tailing it out of the house paddock. When I walked around to the back verandah, I heard more roos thumping the ground in the other paddock, hopping away quick-smart when they saw me coming. They know they’re not welcome on our pasture, meagre as it is. We chase them off at every opportunity, though many are bold and don’t run from humans, even at a short distance. But the younger roos tend to panic, and sometimes the horses will spook or get excited and take off. So I worry about a roo possibly colliding with one of my boys and slashing them open with those wicked claws. They can be downright vicious if they feel cornered. We have had a few get stuck in the fence since we moved here, usually badly mangled by the wire. They fight the fence but can’t back out because of the weight of their tail. They will let rip the most ugly guttural growl when you approach them. It’s really disconcerting when you’re trying to help them.

Our place is attractive to roos as its easy for them to get into, and besides, our pasture is much better than our landlord’s paddocks next-door. While the rest of the property is fenced with “roo-proof” fence about eight feet high, most of our boundary fencing is standard height post and rail (rotted through due to termites), with ring lock wire. Not horse safe. So we have fenced off a run for the horses well inside the boundary with portable electric fence. It keeps them off the growing pasture but still gives them room to move around.

Portable electric fence with stamp-in posts and wire braid

It looks like this.
Image by Broken Toy Shop Photography

The electric is no match for roos moving at speed. Last night, they took out a stretch of it before bounding off into the bush. The night was so still, you could hear leaf litter shattering under their hopping feet for a long time afterwards. I had forgotten to switch the zapper on, but in reality, it probably wouldn’t have made much difference. They are pretty thick-skinned and will do anything for an easy feed.

Of course the horses spooked and took off a bit, but they were good boys and didn’t take the opportunity to tear around with the fences down. I gave them a feed of lucerne chaff to distract them, anyway, while I tied off the area with the downed fence. I’d deal with it in the morning. Thanks, freeloaders!

It could always be worse. At least we don’t have bears in Australia. I have heard they have an almost gleeful disregard for fencing!


7 thoughts on “When kangaroos attack… your fences

  1. Wow! Not ever having been in your part of the world, I never thought about kangaroos and the problem they could be. Here… our worst problem are deer…there were at least 10 of them in the pasture the other morning…but they are gentle, jump way over fences and the biggest threat they pose is eating fruit trees and garden plants…

  2. This is just amazing to me. Living in the states, kangaroos are these adorable fuzzy things we see at the zoo laying around or gently hopping around grazing. I’ve read in books that they are dangerous and very powerful, but it is totally different to read it first-hand in someone’s blog. Very interesting, thanks for sharing and giving a real life view of living with roos.
    We do have bears here, and they are troublesome. I’ve never heard of them damaging fencing – they are usually able to get over it, or through it. But they do plenty of other damage to other things.
    We also have elk, and they are great at tearing down fences because they aren’t as agile as deer at jumping over and are bigger and more powerful so they can kind of plow through it if needed. The bulls are dangerous during rut and last year a bull gored our friend’s horse during rut, but that is a very rare occurence.
    When building fences around here you either have to make it short enough they can clear it easily (which often means your livestock isn’t as secure) or high enough they have to go around it, or fix it up contantly if you live where the herds are used to moving through.

    • Thanks for your comments! I’m stoked that people are interested in reading my humble little blog 🙂

      You know its funny, I am continually surprised by how athletic roos are. One morning just after dawn, I quietly watched a big boomer across the valley as he tried to negotiate the eight foot high “roo proof” fence. Hopping back and forth, quite relaxed, like he knew he’d find a way through, it was just a matter of time. He tested a few spots, trying to push through the ring-lock wire or go underneath. Eventually when that didn’t work, it was like he went “Oh stuff it” and just hopped right over from a standstill, like it was nothing. Amazing. They could easy do that in most cases, I think half the time they’re just too lazy to bother! And of course they aren’t so agile when they panic.

      Roos can be cute, for sure. They have those soulful brown eyes, and the little joeys especially can be very sweet. My partner’s sister rescues and rehabilitates injured wildlife over in Queensland and she often takes care of orphaned joeys. Personally, I don’t really see the point of rehabbing orphans for release when the country is already overpopulated with roos… but that’s another matter. Maybe we would have less roos if the dingos hadn’t been eradicated from so much of the country but then you’d have a whole other issue with predation of livestock. No easy answers!

      As far as wild critters go, roos really aren’t too bad. Sounds like you guys in the US have a much greater variety of fence-wrecking beasties to contend with than us down here! I just googled elk – they look rather hefty, I can easily imagine them flattening fencing. Your poor friend’s horse! That is just awful 😦

      As for bears, I have never seen a wild bear but I have a crazy fear of them! I have this irrational idea that they are everywhere in the US! Its funny because snakes and spiders don’t worry me, so I guess you always fear the unknown 😉

      • It’s interesting that you bring up the eradication of the dingos and the problems with that and all.
        We face the same problems here with the killing of wolves and we are now overpopulated with elk, and the elk overpopulation is causing other species to die out and move, but if they re-introduce the wolves then what about the livestock, etc, etc. That topic has taken up many town meeting discussions. Same story, halfway around the world, different species. Crazy.

  3. This was fun to read as I doubt I’ll ever have to deal with kangaroos on my farm! Glad that your horses were alright and didn’t take off. We have some pretty daring deer where we live as well as a few cunning coyotes that dig under our electric fences! We never had any problems with the bears and our fences, but we lost our two bee hives to a hungry bear a few years ago. I haven’t gotten back into bees since then as it was such a struggle to get them going and then to have that happen sort of crushed me!

    • Oh no I have read about that happening! I can imagine it would be devastating losing hives like that. It must be hard keeping bees when you have harsh snowy winters. I love honey so I would love to keep bees, the start up costs seem quite steep though 😦

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