Kangaroos are one of the fascinating marsupials in the world, and a huge part of this is because of their pouch where they carry their little ones, also referred to as “joeys.” Other animals have pouches, too, though, such as the koala, wombat, wallaby, and opossum.
But in this post, we will talk about a kangaroo’s pouch. Kangaroos have a special pouch called “marsupium” that they use to carry their babies due to their tiny size when born. In fact, the joeys are so tiny that they’re only about the size of a lima bean when they’re born.
Have you ever wondered what’s inside a kangaroo pouch? You’ve come to the right page. However, here’s a quick background on a kangaroo’s reproductive anatomy before we dive into that.
A female kangaroo has three vaginas with only one opening, and the opening is divided into three that meet back at the uteruses. You might wonder how they can become pregnant, considering there are three vaginas, right? How can a male kangaroo penetrate?
Male kangaroos usually have a two-pronged penis shape, one for each of the sperm-facilitating vaginas. So, if you think about it, there’s no reason for a female kangaroo not to get pregnant! Keep in mind that kangaroos only have one baby at a time.
Why Do They Have a Pouch
Marsupials, like the kangaroo, have pouches due to their short gestation period. Their babies are born very small. What the baby does after birth is to crawl into the pouch to continue developing.
What’s Inside the Kangaroo Pouch?
A crucial thing to know about a kangaroo pouch is that only the female ones have them. The pouch contains mammary glands and holds their babies until they’re ready to leave the pouch after 46 weeks or so. Keep in mind that kangaroos are only pregnant for a month, and the joey will be born.
The pouch is a pocket of skin, which serves as a second womb. Similar to a pregnant belly, the pouch can stretch to accommodate the growing baby. It contains flexible and strong muscles and ligaments; the mom can also tighten the muscles To keep the joey safe.
Additionally, the pouch has four nipples that produce milk to keep the baby from getting sick. Interestingly, the mom can make different types of milk at the same time, and therefore, the mom can suckle two babies in different age groups simultaneously.
The kangaroo pouch inside also has sweat glands that release antimicrobial substances, and these can help protect the babies from viruses, parasites, and bacteria. Moreover, there’s no hair at all in the pouch, which promotes better skin-to-skin contact that not only strengthens the bond between mother and child but keeps the joey warm and cozy.
If you think about it, the kangaroo pouch works like a complete nursery that has everything the joey needs.
Another thing is that the pouch is so strong, thanks to the strong muscles of female kangaroos. When they hop, you’ll notice the pouch hardly visible because they can tighten or relax completely. If the kangaroo needs to hop fast, she will tighten her pouch muscles and presses her joey hard against her belly. Also, when threatened, female kangaroos do a somersault for maximum protection and safety of the joey.
The Need for a Kangaroo Pouch
Why do kangaroos need that pouch, though? The push plays a significant role in reproduction as it is used to raise their babies. This is where joeys live during the first few months of their lives.
Now, the joeys can make a mess in the pouch—like pooping and peeing—so, where does that mess go? It’s impossible for dirt to fall out of the pouch because it only opens upward. Hence, the need for the mom to clean her pouch regularly by licking the dirt out. She puts her snout into the pouch and licks it.
When Do Joeys Leave the Pouch?
Now the joeys aren’t meant to stay in their mom’s pouch forever—they will need to leave soon. They only need to stay in the pouch for the first few months, and when they’re ready, they just crawl out of their mom’s pouch, and that’s it! From time to time, when they’re still little, they can go back to the couch to eat.
However, there are cases when some marsupials will carry their babies longer than expected, usually up to a year.