One of the main things that we think about and associate with kangaroos is their pouches.
Many marsupials raise their young within the confines of their pouch, which provides the perfect nutrients and atmosphere for their growth.
Their pouches allow them to nurse their young children, whilst simultaneously granting them mobility to graze and travel themselves.
Although many of us have witnessed kangaroos carrying their joeys in their pouches, most of us have no idea what the inside conditions are like.
To find out all you need to know about kangaroo pouches, keep reading, as we take a look below.
What Does The Pouch Look Like?
In terms of appearance, for those of you who are wondering what the pouch actually looks like, some have described it as a hoodie sweatshirt.
The hood portion is where the baby resides, and the drawstrings to keep it contained are formed of the mother’s muscles.
The inside of the pouch is quite different from the outside. It’s made up of kangaroo skin, which has the same texture as the outside, but without any hair on top.
To compare it with something familiar, the inside of the pouch is incredibly soft like the back of a person’s wrist.
It provides a comfortable and supportive environment for the joey to reside in. It’s incredibly warm too, and provides an insulated environment to regulate the baby’s body temperature.
Within the pouch, you’ll also find four teats for the baby kangaroo to feed on. When the baby kangaroo is initially born, it’s incredibly small in size.
The young kangaroo will crawl up the mothers stomach and latch on to one of the teats, which will fix itself down the baby’s throat and act as a feeding device for up to four months.
The young kangaroo will stay in the pouch intermittently for up to 10 months of its life (Also check out How Long Is A Kangaroo’s Life Span), but will gradually begin to spend most of its time outside the confines of the mother’s pouch.
Do Baby Kangaroos Poop In The Pouch?
As you can imagine, if the baby kangaroo spends the majority of its infant life within the confines of its mothers pouch, then things can begin to get a bit messy in there.
The joey won’t actually leave the pouch and venture outside for five months, so up until that time, it will continue to defecate inside. They will urinate in there too, which can cause it to become incredibly dirty.
As well as this, the pouch can become even dirtier after the joey ventures outside, as their feet will gradually accumulate dirt which they’ll bring back in.
Because the pouch gets filled with grime, the mother is required to clean it out from time to time to prevent illness or disease.
This is done by sticking the tongue into the pouch, and cleaning it out in this manner. This can be done whilst the baby kangaroo is still in the pouch, so they don’t need to leave the confines of their mother’s stomach.
Do All Kangaroos Have Pouches?
When a female kangaroo is born, they’ll already have a small pouch forming on their stomachs. They have been genetically built to carry their young in the front of their bellies.
As they grow, so does the pouch, and it develops into a full fledged pouch after they’ve matured.
Male kangaroos (Also check out Are Kangaroos Rodents), on the other hand, are not born with a pouch and are not able to carry their young in the front of their stomachs.
Male kangaroos serve a different purpose in the family, and are responsible for making sure that both they and the mother have an adequate food supply as well as shelter.
They can, however, provide warmth from their body temperature, but cannot produce milk for their young because they’re born without teats.
Is The Joey Born In The Pouch?
There may be some confusion as to whether or not the baby kangaroo is actually born into the couch, but this isn’t the case.
The baby kangaroo is born from the canal of the vagina, just like other mammals, which is located near the mother’s tail.
In order to make the pouch habitable for their young, the mother will begin to clean the pouch whilst they feel the contractions signaling that their young will soon emerge.
After the baby is born, the mother will lean down, allowing the young joey to crawl into the pouch. This is when they’ll find a teat to latch on to for the remainder of their time in the pouch.
If the joey senses danger in their time outside of the pouch as they grow larger, they will sumersault back into the pouch at a great speed.
Which Other Animals Have Pouches?
Although pouches are something that we usually assigned exclusively to kangaroos, they are actually a feature shared by all marsupials.
This includes womboats, opossums, koalas, tasmanian devils, bandicoots, wallabies, and thylacine.
The proper name for the pouch demonstrated by all of these animals is marsupium.
The key difference between all of these animals marsupium is the size, because as you can imagine, the marsupium demonstrated by a kangaroo will be far larger than that of an opossum.
The inside of a kangaroo pouch is an integral part of the baby kangaroo’s development.
In terms of appearance, it can be compared to skin which is the same texture as the inside of a person’s wrist.
The pouch itself can vary in terms of tightness, depending on how loose or tense the mother’s muscles are.
The area requires regular cleaning from the mother, as it accumulates feces, urine, dirt and debris through time.