- Kangaroos can swim.
- Most kangaroos eat grass.
- Baby kangaroos are known as ‘joeys’.
- A group of kangaroos is called a ‘mob’, ‘troop’ or ‘court’.
- The red kangaroo is the largest marsupial in the world.
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A group of large plant-eating marsupials of Australia and Tanzania, having powerful hind legs for jumping and a long, heavy tail used for balance…
Did You Know?
- There are four different kangaroo species, the red kangaroo, eastern grey kangaroo, western grey kangaroo and antilopine kangaroo.
- Kangaroos can hop around quickly on two legs or walk around slowly on all four.
- Kangaroos can’t walk backwards.
- Kangaroos have very powerful legs and can be dangerous at times.
- Kangaroos can jump very high, sometimes three times their own height.
“Home sweet pouch“ Life cycle of a red kangaroo
Kangaroos weigh less than 2 grams when they are born about the size of a jellybean!
It is very difficult to tell when a roo is pregnant, however 24hours before a Joey is born mother thoroughly cleans her pouch and will sit in the birthing position – with her tail through her hind legs and with her hind quarters resting on the ground. The pouch licking, cleaning, becomes more intense just before birth.
The tiny baby, called a Joey, is blind and hairless and moving by instinct only climbs up its mother’s belly and into her pouch. It’s a long climb (about 30cm) but it manages it in about 3 minutes! The mother can’t touch it because it is so tiny. She licks a path in her fur for it to travel along. The new born crawls up the mother’s fur grasping it with its tiny forearms.
The tiny Joey has no functional eyes or ears but large developed nostrils which help it sniff out the milk. Inside the pouch it grabs onto one of four teats, the teat swells to help the Joey stay attached until it is ready to “come out of pouch”.
Milk is automatically fed to the Joey and the milk changes according to the Joey’s needs as it grows until it no longer needs it. The young, or Joey, first protrudes its head from the pouch at 150 days, emerging for short periods at 190 days, and permanently leaving the pouch at 235 to 240 days although still suckling, always from the same teat, for another 3 to 4 months.
A female kangaroo is able to become pregnant again within days of giving birth however can hold that embryo ‘in suspense’, which means it has developed just a little bit and then has stopped and waited. When a Joey leaves the pouch, the mother starts the development of the one in her womb again, and it is born a few weeks later. Then she will have one tiny helpless Joey in her pouch, drinking the kind of milk it needs to develop, and she will have another Joey that is out of the pouch but which returns to feed on milk from another teat. That milk will be different from what the tiny Joey is drinking, because the older Joey needs milk that will help it get strong as it hops around.
If conditions are bad, such as times of drought when there is not much food around, the female kangaroo may wait until things improve before letting the second baby develop. This means that there are few kangaroos born during a drought and ensures that there is food for the existing kangaroos.
Now that’s amazing!