Kangaroo Birth and Care of Young
The reproduction process is very interesting for the Kangaroos. Male Kangaroos are called bucks and the females are referred to as does. The young ones are called joeys. Mating usually takes place during the rainy season of the year. When the vegetation is green and food is plentiful the mature males and females will begin to attract each other for mating purposes.
The female is able to delay the attachment of the embryo to the fetus. This means she is able to control when she will be pregnant. When she has a joey in her body she won’t allow that to happen. Should her young die or mature enough to leave her then she will immediately become pregnant again. As long as conditions are right they can breed all year long.
The only exception is when there isn’t enough food or water for survival. This often occurs during drought conditions or when kangaroos live in the desert. Then she won’t become pregnant at all until the living conditions improve. This is a very serious situation because it can drastically reduce the population of Kangaroos. Another element is that the male Kangaroos often can’t produce sperm which is required for successful mating during the dry season.
The pouch is a very important part of the female body when it comes to reproduction. The joey is going to be born about 30 days after conception which is very early. They are still in a very fragile state of development at that point in time. They are able to climb into the pouch and then to instinctively suck milk from the mothers body.
Amazingly, the young joey is no larger than a single lima bean at that point in time. It is able to find its way into the pouch with no help from the mother. They are extremely small weighing about .03 ounces and they are blind. They are also hairless so they need to make that journey quickly if they are going to survive.
Once there it will latch onto a nipple of the female as she will have four available. This is where the milk comes from. The mother Kangaroos have very strong muscles around the pouch. They are able to squeeze them as the move which prevents their young joey from being tasseled around or from falling out.
Depending on the species of Kangaroo, the joey will live in the pouch of the mother for 1 year to 1 ½ years. As they get older they will start to take time out of the pouch and to explore. Even then though they will stay very close to their mother for protection.
The mother Kangaroo has been known to give birth to another joey while she still has an older one in her pouch though. Then her body is even able to produce too different types of milk. That for the younger joey contains more fat.
What is also amazing is that she can actually determine the sex of her young offspring. Research shows that in the early years when she mates she will want all of her young to be females. However, as she gets older she wants them to be males. The way in which this control happens isn’t fully understood.
It is believed that the females really do enjoy caring for their joeys. They form a very strong attachment to them. Should one become lost they will spend their time looking for it and not eating. Many of them seem to become very sad as they get older and aren’t able to reproduce any longer. During that time they may start to spend more time with the younger females in the mob that have their own joeys.
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