Kangaroos are the only large animals to use hopping as a means of locomotion. The comfortable hopping speed for a red kangaroo is about 20–25 km/h (12–16 mph), but speeds of up to 70 km/h (43 mph) can be attained over short distances, while it can sustain a speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) for nearly 2 km (1.2 mi).
During a hop, the powerful gastrocnemius muscles lift the body off the ground while the smaller plantaris muscle, which attaches near the large fourth toe, is used for push-off. Seventy percent of potential energy is stored in the elastic tendons.
At slow speeds, it employs pentapedal locomotion, using its tail to form a tripod with its two forelimbs while bringing its hind feet forward. Both pentapedal walking and fast hopping are energetically costly. Hopping at moderate speeds is the most energy efficient, and a kangaroo moving above 15 km/h (9.3 mph) maintains energy consistency more than similarly-sized animal running at the same speed. Kangaroos are adept swimmers, and often flee into waterways if threatened by a predator. If pursued into the water, a kangaroo may use its forepaws to hold the predator underwater so as to drown it.