January 08, 2004

Making Kang A Roo


Growth is rapid in the 'in-out' phase of pouch of life. At permanent pouch exit the young red kangaroo weighs some 4.5 kilograms, about twenty percent of it mother's weight. Within 1-4 days of finally leaving the pouch for good the young of a red kangaroo or a member of the wallaroo group is generally replaced by a small new occupant. With the eastern grey kangaroo this replacement occurs after two weeks if a blastocyst was present. The vacating young at foot still puts its head back into the pouch to suckle and continues to suckle on its usual teat for another four months (7-8 months longer for grey kangaroos) but the level of suckling decreases as the young take more herbage.

Once permanently out of the pouch a young at foot becomes more independent. It moves further away from the mother and for longer periods, but still follows her around and rests with her for much of the time. When alarmed, the young at foot relies on its mother to lead it from danger; returning rapidly to its mothers side if a threatening situation were to arise. The mother does keep a watchful eye and calls and moves her young if it becomes lost and gives it a loud distress call. However, it seems that it is primarily the responsibility of the young to stay close to its mother. Mothers tend to have smaller home-ranges when they have a small young at foot and are likely to stay away from their usual social groups. The young at this stage learn not to get to close to other adults, especially males, who quickly chase them away.

Posted by Madfish Willie at January 8, 2004 12:01 AM | TrackBack
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