A warm soft pouch – a good place for a joey!

Kangaroos are a relatively common animal to come across while travelling in the rural countryside in Australia. They are also more readily located in some habitats than others (and this varies with the species).

I live in an area where there are not many large mobs of these animals, but they are about in smaller groups. I have written previously about a chance encounter with a pair of these remarkable creatures while cycling home from work in the dark a few winters ago.

Eastern Grey Kangaroos

Eastern Grey Kangaroos heading for the protective tree cover when we got too close for comfort

We have some acreage on the outskirts of a regional city and about 3 years ago, a small group decided to call this area of revegetated bushland ‘home’. From the initial 5 or 6 animals, the mob has now grown to about 25. They are Eastern Grey Kangaroos, which are one of the bigger species (some of the males weigh the same amount as an adult human).

What are you looking at?

What are you looking at? Joey the ‘right way up’ in the pouch.

They are quite wild and do not like humans approaching them. However, they are amenable to approaching us as long as we continue doing what we were doing and don’t show any signs of threatening behaviour. But about 30 metres (32 yards) seems to be their limit.

We were aware that they were reproducing as the group was getting larger and we could also see the odd joey in the pouches of the older females. However, these sightings were infrequent and most often when there was no camera handy!

As luck would have it though, we were recently able to use a good camera with a high-powered lens to capture the antics of one rather large joey as it climbed in and out of its mother’s pouch.

The photos on this post have been zoomed in – these animals were some way off. The joey was about 60cm (24 inches) high so was quite a large infant!

Eastern Grey Kangaroos

Into the pouch, head first, with tail and hind legs left behind! A large joey heading into its safe, soft warm pouch.

For those who do not know much about kangaroos, they are marsupials and have a very specialised way of reproducing. The females mate and then maintain an embryo without it growing any larger until either the older joey is ready to leave the pouch, or environmental conditions are good enough for her to feed 2 joeys at once. In the latter instance, she will carry both offspring in her pouch at the same time while producing different types of milk for the older and younger joey.

A newborn joey suckles from a teat found withi...

A newborn joey suckles from a teat found within its mother’s pouch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The females are therefore almost always pregnant, except when they have just given birth. The young are very small (about the size of a bean) when born and instinctively make their way to the mother’s pouch where they attach themselves to a teat.

Joeys will stay in the pouch for about 9 months before venturing out. Maternal feeding generally goes on for another 9 months before the young are fully weaned.

Eastern Grey Kangaroos

The joey has turned around and now has its head out of the pouch, but its leg and tail are also still out! They are very flexible!

Kangaroos are very inquisitive and spend a lot of time watching what is going on. They have also evolved with few natural predators, which means they are less flighty than animals from other continents. The staring that you see in these images is the usual reaction to a loud noise or some other unexpected activity. They only take flight if they think there is imminent danger.

Eastern Grey Kangaroos

Heading off! The large female on the left has a very distended pouch – she is carrying that big joey!

Ailsa has posted a Travel Challenge this week which is ‘soft’. Well, there is one place in the world which is very good for getting a ride if the legs get tired and it has meals readily available! The catch is that you need to be a small kangaroo to enjoy your mother’s very soft, comfy pouch.

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12 Responses to A warm soft pouch – a good place for a joey!

  1. Colline says:

    Such an interesting post! I enjoyed learning about these animals – and looking at the photos you managed to capture.

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    • Madoqua says:

      Thanks Colline. I am delighted that you enjoyed the article!
      The joeys seem to be all legs and tail, especially when they get bigger. One would think the mother would get tired of them climbing in and out through the day, but they are very patient and protective regardless of the size of the infant!

      Like

  2. adinparadise says:

    Interesting pics and info, Madoqua. That baby is unbelievably tiny. I had no idea! 🙂

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    • Madoqua says:

      It is very small and undeveloped. All that is reasonably functional at birth is some ‘limbs’ to help it climb up and into the mother’s pouch. They must be quite strong – it would be a long way for something so small.

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  3. Tahira says:

    WOW! So adorable and what wonderful shots! I love the staring pose and I also learned a few new things today. Thanks, Madoqua! And I agree, what can more soft & comfy than curling into moms pouch. Too bad it’s only for kangaroos – Some days that would REALLY come in handy for us humans 🙂

    Like

    • Madoqua says:

      Tahira, I agree – a safe vantage place to check out the world!
      What intrigues me is how a large and very small joey can live in the pouch together. You would think the larger one would squash the little one.

      Like

  4. Claire says:

    Great pics 😉

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  5. mudlips says:

    How wonderful to have roo watching so close. I imagine you could lose track of time watching them.

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    • Madoqua says:

      It is really lovely. I know that kangaroos are pretty common fauna in Australia, but I do get a buzz out of having them on our doorstep, and they are such characters.
      We put a large area of concrete in last year and it was my job to keep the roos off it while it cured! I had to resort to using flashing bicycle lights – highly amusing, but best thing was that they worked!

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  6. Wonder how comfortable it is for the mother kangaroo to have a big joey in her pouch while she hops about?

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