Kangaroos and their Joeys
Kangaroos are famous for their large, powerful hind legs that they use for hopping. They are the only large mammal that uses hopping for locomotion. Besides that, kangaroos have another fun fact. They are marsupials. Marsupials are a group of mammals that carry their young in their pouch. Kangaroos are very different from other animals.
The Dangerous Journey
The newborn called a joey looks totally helpless. Yet, it manages to make its way to the pouch without any help from its mother. What an amazing feat a tiny creature can do. Clinging to its mother’s fur Joey climbs slowly to its mother’s belly to reach the warmth and safety of the pouch. The journey only takes a few minutes.
Life in the Pouch
Whenever a kangaroo is born, they go to their mother’s pouch. Safe in the pouch the joey clamps onto one of four teats that give life-giving milk. The teat swells to fill the mouth and works like an anchor, holding the baby firm so that the baby does not fall out as it’s mother hops around. Fed by the mother’s milk, the joey grows quickly. It’s eyes and ears open, it’s fur starts to grow, and it’s strong back legs develop. It starts to look more like a young kangaroo. After a few months, the joey takes it’s first peep out of the pouch. Soon it will be able to venture into the outside world the second time.
Leaving the Pouch
At the age of six months old, the red and gray kangaroos leave the pouch for the for the first time, as their mother’s tip them to the ground gently. Some kangaroos leave the pouch when they are eight months old and still suck milk for three to four months old. Others leave at eleven months and still suck the milk until they are eighteen months old. At first, the joey spends only a short amount of time on the ground before getting back into the pouch. The young animal moves awkwardly at first, but soon it learns how to hop on its hind legs like its mother. Their mother teaches them how to feed and take care of themselves.
Kangaroos are very interesting and unique animals, not only because of their hopping, but also because of the way they reproduce. Besides carrying their babies in the pouch female kangaroos are considered to always be pregnant. When one baby is ready to leave the pouch a new one is ready to climb back in it. Isn’t it amazing!