Kangaroos don't fart

Some scientists believe that kangaroos may hold answers to helping address global warming.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time around kangaroos; plenty of them live in our area and I had the pleasure of working with them for a while during my early teens in a wildlife park.

I can honestly say I’ve never heard or copped a whiff of a single fart from a roo.

I’ve never seen a kangaroo look embarassed about or blame an awful smell in their vicinity on a dog. I’ve not borne witness to even a single highly controlled, silent but deadly fart. Nada on the farts. Nothing. Not even belching. Even our dogs belch (and fart). It smells bad out either end. They are very sneaky in their approach too.. always quiet, always lethal.

It’s been my belief up until today that kangaroos were just incredibly well mannered and waited for me to leave the area before breaking wind – but it seems they are truly fart-less.

Our local kangaroos – not just being polite

I’ve also spent time around cattle, and can’t say the same for them. There’s nothing quite like working in a older herringbone style milking shed for fully appreciating just how much gas (and other stuff) they exude. Sometimes the wind coming from their rear end is strong enough to ruffle your hair. Anyone who’s worked a herringbone milking shed will be nodding vigorously right now; knowing exactly what I mean.

Most animals fart, kangaroos simply don’t. Makes for an amazing piece of dinner party conversation, eh? I was fascinated by this and just had to investigate further.

A substantial component of a fart is methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas and molecule for molecule can trap 25 times more atmospheric heat than carbon dioxide.

18 percent of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent are attributable to livestock according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In Australia, livestock burp/fart/poo methane emissions, more politely known as “enteric fermentation” account for 50% of our anthropogenic (human related) methane emissions.

The average cow, depending on feed can generate anywhere from 100 – 500 litres of methane a day. That’s out both ends and doesn’t include methane that is created as bacteria work on their manure.

Back to Skippy, our intrepid non-farting kangaroo…

Kangaroos and cows have similar diets. So, what’s different about kangaroos that prevents them from farting? It’s down to the different bacteria that exist in the roo’s stomach.

In cows and other cud chewing livestock, feed fermenting in the stomach creates hydrogen, which can prevent the fermentation and digestion from proceeding. In the case of these animals, nature gets around it by employing the use of bacteria, which then create methane. In Kangaroos, the bacteria instead create acetate, which aids digestion.

For a few years now, scientist have been working on isolating these bacteria in the hope of introducing them to cattle. Aside from the methane reduction, they also believe by achieving this, livestock could gain 10 and 15% more energy from the same amount of feed.

It’s interesting stuff, but I can’t help thinking that cows have a particular bacteria for a reason. I’m also envisioning some sort of FrankenCow as a result of these tweaks.

Maybe it would be just as easy for us to reduce our meat consumption? I’m no vegetarian, but I have been thinking about this a lot of late and taken some steps to cut down on the amount of red meat I eat.

But really, I just posted this item just so I could use the word “fart” regularly (giggles).

If you’re interested in learning more; here’s a couple of older articles on the topic of fartless kangaroos, cow farts and global warming

Couldn’t resist, just had to squeeeeze out a few more mentions. Get it? “squeeze out”? (more childish giggles). I’ll stop now.