5 Kangaroo Joey Facts You’ve Never Heard Before

Kangaroos are one of the most well-known and popular marsupials that are native to Australia.

They’re known around the world for their amazing jumping ability, strong legs, and long tails, as well as their cute babies that live in their mother’s pouches.

5 Kangaroo Joey Facts You've Never Heard Before

But what do you really know about kangaroo joeys? What’s the evolution of a kangaroo?

In this article, we will take a closer look at kangaroo joeys and reveal five kangaroo joey facts that you’ve never heard before.

Let’s get started!

1. The Milk Drank By Kangaroo Joeys Develops As They Do

When kangaroo joeys are born, they weigh less than one ounce (two grams) and are as small as a jellybean.

They’re far too small to survive at this weight and size so they continue their growth and development inside the pouch of their mother.

They will usually live inside this pouch for around six months before venturing out into the world on their own. After this point, joeys will hop in and out of the pouch until they’re ready to leave it for good.

While in the pouch, a joey feeds by nursing from its mother. This continues even after the joey has begun to leave the pouch as joeys typically drink their mother’s milk for over a year.

This doesn’t mean, however, that the joey is drinking the same milk for the entire time.

The formula of kangaroo milk constantly changes as the joey grows to ensure the baby gets all of the nutrition it needs at every stage of development.

Newborn joeys need a milk that is full of proteins and is rich in immunity providing nutrients. Their milk is quite watery and is also packed with simple carbohydrates to give them energy and help them grow.

Older joeys have milk with a different formula. Their milk is rich in carbs and proteins and also has some fat included, making it a little thicker.

Joeys that are getting towards the end of their nursing receive a milk that is loaded with fat and protein but is low in carbohydrates.

Kangaroo mothers are so skilled at producing the right milk for their joeys that they can even produce two different types of milk at the same time.

If joeys of different ages nurse from the same mother, then she will produce two different types of milk from different nipples to ensure they both get the formula that they need.

2. Two Joeys Can Share The Same Pouch

As we mentioned in the previous fact, kangaroo mothers can produce different types of milk to feed two joeys at the same time.

Kangaroos don’t have multiple births so there are no instances of joey twins out there, but they can have joeys close enough together that they will both need to nurse at the same time.

Kangaroo joeys can be born as little as nine months apart. This means that the older joey will have moved past the stage of being in the pouch permanently, but will still climb inside to feed.

Thankfully, the pouch of a kangaroo is large enough for two joeys! 

While the younger joey suckles from one of the smaller teats, the older joey can duck inside and feed from a larger teat.

Kangaroo mothers have four nipples and these can stretch and grow alongside the joey.

This means that the older joey will have a nipple that has grown alongside them and will be too big for the younger joey to suckle from. 

It’s a neat system that allows a mother to take care of her two joeys without needing to worry about them missing out on important nutrients.

They both have the room they need in the pouch and can feed as they need to.

3. Kangaroo Pouches Can Expand And Contract As They Need To

Kangaroo Pouches Can Expand And Contract As They Need To

Kangaroo pouches are pretty amazing. They aren’t just a flap of skin that remains in the same condition and they don’t even expand with time, either.

They have a remarkable elasticity that allows them to be loose and floppy before quickly contracting so that they’re tight and snug.

This process can happen repeatedly and takes only moments to do.

During the hot Australian summer days, the pouch is usually large and loose. It’s almost like a hammock for the joey to relax and hang out in.

The joey can sleep in plenty of space and it’s not unusual to see joey legs, ears, or tails sticking out of the loose folds of the pouch.

However, hopping around with such a loose and floppy pouch would not be safe for the mother and especially not for the joey.

This is why the pouch is able to quickly contract and become as tight as a drum. 

There are some very powerful muscles around the edges of the pouch and these can be quickly tightened or relaxed as the mother needs.

If the mother needs to quickly get to her feet and hop away from danger, she can tighten the muscles around her pouch to press her joey tightly against her body and keep it safe as she moves. 

If the pouch remained loose, it would be highly likely that the joey would fall out.

Kangaroos can hop at amazing speeds so it is a necessity that the pouch is able to tighten like a seatbelt and keep the joey safe.

4. Joeys Can Enter The Pouch At High-Speed And From All Angles

When they need to, joeys can enter the pouch at spectacular speeds. If the mother senses danger and calls for the joey to take refuge in her pouch, then the joey will quickly make tracks to find safety.

One of the most common ways for joeys to quickly enter the pouch is by somersaulting into it.

They can dive head first into the pouch and then quickly rotate their body so that they are the right way up and ready for their mother to hop away.

Even when not in danger, joeys often climb in head first and then use a series of kicks and wriggles to get themselves the right way up.

Thankfully, the pouch is very elastic and can stretch to accommodate the joey’s weird movements.

5. Joeys Are Toilet Trained From Birth

If you’ve ever had to deal with human babies, you’ll know how frustrating and messy it can be when it comes to toilet training time.

Luckily for them, kangaroo mothers have far more control over their babies than humans do. 

Joeys will not urinate or defecate unless they feel their mother’s tongue against them.

Kangaroo mother’s regularly clean out their pouch to ensure they don’t get dirty and while cleaning their pouch, they also clean their joey.

This is when joeys will urinate or defecate and it means that they relieve themselves right onto their mother’s tongue. Although this sounds disgusting, joeys don’t produce much waste and it is a natural process.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we listed five kangaroo joey facts that you’ve never heard before. Several of them concerned the joey’s relationship with their mother’s amazing pouch and how it benefits their development. 

We hope that you enjoyed these facts and learned something new about kangaroo joeys!

Olivia Kepner