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Why does a kangaroo have a pouch?
Question Date: 2016-12-01
Answer 1:

Kangaroos are a kind of marsupial (mar-SOO-pee-al). They are mammals because they have fur and give milk. They are marsupials because they have pouches where their babies live after they are born. The babies need a pouch because they are born very early, when they are not really ready to be outside their mother.

Kangaroo babies are born when they are really still embryos. They have no hair and their eyes and ears are closed. Their back legs may not be fully formed. Adult red kangaroos weigh 200 pounds. When the baby kangaroo is born, it is the size of a bee and weighs about as much as a couple of paper clips. Imagine a human baby being born that small. It would need a lot of protection.

Kangaroo babies have to climb from the end of the birth canal, up the mother’s fur, and into the pouch. The mother licks a path along her fur for the baby to follow. Once it is safely in the pouch, it attaches to a nipple and may not let go for months.

As it grows, the baby gets bigger and stronger. Its eyes and ears open. It grows fur. When it is ready, it will start to leave the pouch for longer and longer times. It will still feed from a nipple inside the pouch. If danger is around, it can jump back into the pouch for its mother’s protection.

Different animals are born more or less ready to go. Horses can stand and run almost as soon as they are born. Wild horses live in open grasslands where predators might attack them. Puppies and kittens are born with fur, but their eyes and ears are still closed. Wild members of the cat and dog families give birth in dens underground where they have some protection from predators.

What might be some good or bad things about an animal baby being born when it is already big? Think about both the baby and the mother.

Can you think of a marsupial that lives in the United States? Hint, they play dead when they are attacked.

You might want to study animal biology.

Thanks for asking,

Answer 2:

Interesting question. Kangaroos belong to a group of mammals called marsupials. Compared to the kind of mammal we are (placental mammals), the young of marsupials are born at a very early developmental state. The newborns are completely helpless--not even their eyes have open yet. So...marsupials spend their early life in mom's pouch (called a marsupium), where they suckle (drink milk) and grow to the point of being able to live and feed independently.

Just to make things complicated, a few marsupials have secondarily lost their pouches, and the young have to cling to mom's belly either with the mouths or paws.

Answer 3:

Female kangaroos have pouches to hold their babies. Unlike placental mammals (such as humans), kangaroo babies are born very immature, so need extra protection.

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