Kangaroos are one of our planet’s most unique creatures, their weird method of movement and being the world’s largest marsupial just adds to the intrigue around this bizarre but adorable animal.
When first born kangaroos are the size of a lima bean so how do they grow into the world’s largest marsupial?
We will learn more about that later but there are also a lot of cool facts surrounding the baby kangaroos that we will also cover in this article.
The name given to a baby kangaroo is a Joey. The baby marsupials share the name with baby koalas, wallabies, opossums and also wombats.
You may be wondering why the kangaroo has a special name for its young in comparison to other animals around the world who mostly share a title.
The reason they are referred to as joeys is because in the Aboriginal language it translates to ‘little animal’.
So joeys are named joeys because they are simply just little animals.
They Are Potty Trained From Birth
When joeys are born they are just the size of a bean, and are so small they cannot be touched by their mother until they grow in size a few weeks after being born.
The only interaction that the mother will have with the baby joey is to check that it has been born into her pouch and from there she will keep her pouch clean and then that is it until the joey is large enough to emerge from her pouch.
The mother will keep the pouch and surrounding areas clean by licking away any mess or dirt there as well as any waste created by the baby joey as it continues to grow.
In fact for the developing joey to go to the toilet the mother must lick the baby until it feels the sensation of going to the toilet.
Whilst this may sound disgusting to us the joeys will only produce a small drop or two of waste because of how small they are.
Baby joeys are born remarkably soon into their mothers’ gestation period.
With a pregnancy of only a few weeks the newborn kangaroo is born much more prematurely than most mammals young.
This is why the baby joeys remain in the mothers pouch for so long as it allows them the time to develop and grow into a kangaroo.
When they are born they are the size of a bean and have to make the journey from their mothers birth canal to the pouch completely on its own which is a difficult task for any newborn let alone a newborn the size of a bean.
They are too small to be aided by their mother making it all down to them to make sure that they survive being brought into the world.
As they are marsupials they are born prematurely and thus must live in their mothers pouch for their early development.
For the newborn to make it into the pouch it must navigate its mothers womb completely blind and also whilst weighing 400 times less than a pound.
Once they make it they will spend their entire early life dedicated to growing in size and getting stronger.
Once they are big enough they will begin to raise their head from the pouch to take in their surroundings and start to be more active with their mother, then once they have outgrown the pouch or the mother gets pregnant again they will vacate the pouch in preparation for the new baby to take its place.
From Smallest To Largest Marsupial
With a newborn kangaroo weighing just 0.8 grams it is easy to see why it is the smallest marsupial at birth, even smaller than the other marsupials who when fully grown are far smaller than a fully grown kangaroo, so where does this massive growth spurt come from?
Due to the mothers milk containing the perfect nutrients needed to sustain a fast growing joey it enables the baby kangaroo (see also: Are There Any Kangaroos In Africa?)to absolutely shoot up in size and when fully grown a male kangaroo will be the largest marsupial on the planet.
Joeys Use Their Tail As A Fifth Limb
Whilst they grow stronger by the day the joeys tail will also become firmer and stronger along with it.
There are kangaroos who will use their tail as a fifth leg when they walk (see also: Animals That Walk On Two Legs)around at a standard pace.
Tails can also be used as a weapon if they are required to defend themselves.
Mothers Are Very Protective Of Their Young
When the mother is pregnant they will do anything to ensure the safety of their young.
The female kangaroo has the amazing ability to pause their pregnancy if they do not feel the environment is correct for their young to be raised.
The mother may also stall the pregnancy if they feel it has been too soon since they last had a child, this prevents two joeys from being in the pouch at the same time and could lead to one being crushed to death by the other.
Kangaroos (Also check out Are Kangaroos Rodents) are not the only animals with the ability to do this, sharing the ability with seals and bears and some other species who are mostly carnivores.
What Do Joeys Eat?
From the moment they are born until a couple of months old the mother will make a special milk for the child that will change to accommodate the growing joey as it gets older by giving the correct nutrients at the right time to encourage the best possible development.
After they leave the pouch they will, like their mother, eat only grass and vegetation for the remainder of their life.
So there you have everything you need to know about baby kangaroos.
Hopefully you know the correct name for them and have learnt a lot about their early life and how the mother looks after her child until they are able to leave and roam free.