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Masterful jumpers Kangaroo - with a built-in pouch

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The most famous characteristic of the kangaroo is its pouch. In fact, only the females have a pouch and carry the young there for a walk. What many do not know either: There are 61 different types of kangaroo.

By: Mischa Drautz and Veronika Baum

As of: 01/27/2019

Animal reporter Anna had to get up early. Because kangaroos doze during the day, the animals are fed very early in the morning.

Some kangaroos can grow to be the size of an adult, while others are the size of a small rabbit. The animals live in the steppe, in the swamp or on trees. They are found almost exclusively in Australia. A few species of kangaroo also live on the island of New Guinea. The marsupials are mainly crepuscular and nocturnal and eat grass, leaves, fruits and flower buds.

World champion in high and long jump

Animal reporter Paula wanted to find out how kangaroos manage to hop so elegantly and far. Check out her film about it!

In the outdoor pool, for example, the red giant kangaroo would have it pretty easy: It would not have to stand in line at the three-meter tower, nor would it have to climb a ladder. In one leap it could jump from the ground onto the three-meter tower! Three meters - that's how unbelievably high the animals can hop thanks to their long and strong hind legs. And long jump is not a problem for them either: the tallest kangaroos can do twelve meters. In a soccer stadium, you could jump from one gate to the other in eight casual hops! However, kangaroos are not always jumping around, they can also walk normally.

Funny anecdote: where does the name kangaroo come from?

Allegedly, the kangaroo got its name as a result of a major misunderstanding. When the British navigator James Cook explored New Zealand and Australia at the end of the 18th century, he also saw the large, completely unknown, hopping animals there. He asked the local Aborigines what kind of animals they were. The answer was "Kangoroo". But that was - as the anecdote tells - in the language of the indigenous people: "I don't understand". Funny. But unfortunately not true. There is an Aboriginal dialect in which the word "gang-oo-roo" is used for the gray giant kangaroo.

A baby in a practical carrying bag

You can find out more about how kangaroos raise their babies in Anna's animal report!

The pouch of the female kangaroo can actually be thought of as a backpack. Except that it is built into the fur at belly height. The animals can open and close their pouch with a muscle. A kangaroo cub is born after 20 to 40 days of pregnancy and has yet to develop fully in its mother's pouch. When they are born, the little kangaroos are naked and tiny: just a little bigger than a gummy bear! The kangaroo baby has to crawl the way from the birth canal into the pouch independently after birth. It then hangs on one of the four teats in the bag. It sticks there for the next two to four months.

Feeding! Brolga raises orphaned giant red kangaroos in the outback, the vast, sparsely populated hinterland of Australia.

After about half a year the young have grown vigorously and maybe as big as a handball. Now they are sticking their heads out of the bag for the first time. At about eight months the time has come: the boy leaves his bag and explores the world because he no longer fits in the built-in backpack. Sometimes that looks pretty funny when young animals want to squeeze into the pouch, but are simply too big - and then their hind legs stick out wildly from the pouch. Since the young are suckled for up to twelve months, the young animal likes to put its head in the pouch and drink later. Sometimes a "successor" already lives in the bag.

A young animal peeks curiously from its mother's pouch.

The kangaroo babies do not leave the pouch for the first six months after birth. And what do you do during this time when you have to go to the bathroom? Are they really pooping in the kangaroo mom's pouch? You can find out more about this in the Laughter Laboratory episode: "Do kangaroos poop in the bag?".