Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cuteness Plus

My Piccie of the day was taken in The Grampians nearly 12 months ago.
Deb had a sleep-in in the motel we stayed at, while I got out and about in the frosty morning light. Among other things I was rewarded with this nice shot of an Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) doe. As you can see she has a joey in her pouch.
Joey has grown so big she barely fits. As well as her face and forearm you can see her large toes poking out too. She has had to double up to squeeze in.

Her mother would have already mated again and be pregnant. Interestingly unlike placental mammals where once a pregnancy begins it must go through to the end, marsupials can "suspend" a foetus. As soon as Joey is out of the pouch mother will send a signal to the baby inside and it will begin growing again.
The new baby is born tiny, less than an inch long, blind and with forelimbs only partially developed, the newborn has no visible sign of tail or the massive rear limbs it will have in only a few months. Using its arms it climbs unaided up and into her pouch where it latches onto one of her two teats (a kangaroo's teats are in the bottom of the pouch). It will stay there locked to the teat and continue growing until it is a small version of mum (like this joey) before coming out.
In the meantime Joey will be allowed to continue putting her head into the pouch to feed from the other teat for a few months more, until mum decides she is independent.


Anne Gallagher said...

You are just a font of knowledge. I should have my daughter read your blog. Especially with your piccies of animals. Perhaps I'll put your blog in her list of favorites. We'll see if she can learn something.

Linda G. said...

Kangaroos are such fascinating critters -- thanks for the pic and the facts!

mshatch said...

such strange creatures, kangaroos. That baby looks like it's getting a bit heavy; I'd have kicked it out!

Carolyn V said...

That's amazing! I had no idea they could postpone their pregnancy. That is so cool.