Everything You Want To Know About The Kangaroo Life Cycle
Anyone who has seen these charming animals hopping along with a Joey in their pouch has probably wondered about the kangaroo life cycle. Kangaroos are native to Tasmania, New Guinea and Australia and they are the world’s largest Marsupials. Standing on only two legs, these fascinating creatures are known for the fierce power that is contained in their tail and hind legs that enables them to hop at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.
The kangaroo life cycle consists of four stages, beginning with the birth. When a baby kangaroo is born, amazingly, it is not much larger than a jellybean. Newborns are typically one to two centimeters in length, weighing under two grams. Since the baby is so tiny, the mother kangaroo is not even able to touch it.
One of the most fascinating things about the kangaroo life cycle is that since the mother cannot touch the bean-sized baby, she licks a path for it to her pouch in her fur. After the baby has made the long and time consuming journey to her pouch, it attaches itself to the mother’s teat to be fed. During this stage, the brain, lungs and other organs are still developing. For the next 8 to 10 months, the baby remains in the mother’s pouch.
During the first stage of the kangaroo life cycle, the baby develops until it reaches the Joey stage where it will be able to leave the pouch. Interestingly, the mother has very strong muscles that enable her to both relax and tighten her pouch. When she feels that her Joey is ready to be let out for the first time, she will relax her muscles which causes her Joey to fall out.
In the beginning of this stage, the mother kangaroo will only allow the Joey to stay out of her pouch for a couple of minutes at a time. Slowly, she increases the time increments but the Joey still remains at her side. When a Joey gets scared, it will jump into its mother’s pouch head first but eventually she will put a stop to this.
Advanced Joey Stage
At this point of the kangaroo life cycle, the Joey typically weighs between 50 and 70 pounds. It is easiest to compare an advanced Joey to a teenager who is not quite an adult yet but is earning more independence every day. However, even though the Joey feels a bit more independent, it still stays by its mother’s side and looks to her for protection. Advanced Joey’s are not welcome around adult male kangaroos either and if they do approach them, they are quickly chased away.
The kangaroo life cycle is complete once the Joey becomes an adult. At this point, they can weigh anywhere from 75 to 200 pounds. Traditionally, the females weigh much less than the males do. Females are bluish-gray in color while males are reddish shades.
The strong back legs of the kangaroo are one of the main characteristics that they are known for, empowering them to jump 8 feet high and 30 feet in front of them. Females arrive at their sexual maturity between 20 and 24 months while males can mature much sooner at 15 months. In captivity, kangaroos have an average lifespan of 16 years however, in the wild, if they survive their Joey stage, they can live to be 22 years old.
Kangaroos have phenomenal vision and hearing and can even go an extended length of time with no water. The largest threat to these intriguing animals is humans. Despite popular belief that dingos are their biggest predator, kangaroos have been sadly hunted by humans for their skin and meat throughout history.
These animals are shy by nature and traditionally pose no threat at all to humans unless they feel as though they are in danger and then their hind claws are capable of disemboweling their opponent.