You don’t tend to keep kangaroos as pets, which is why these animals tend to hold more mysteries than your average cat or dog. One such mystery is what the inside of their pouch is like. It’s fairly common knowledge that these creatures keep their young here, but that’s about it. Fortunately, you don’t have to look too far for answers.
It’s like a hooded sweatshirt
Comparing a kangaroo’s pouch to the hood of a sweatshirt might seem strange. However, animal care supervisor Rick Schwartz feels like it’s one of the best comparisons to make. According to him, the pouch is like the hood, while the kangaroo’s muscles are the drawstrings. Depending on her needs, she can keep it tight or relax and let it open wide.
It’s pretty warm
If you were trapped in an enclosed space, you’d probably find that it gets warm pretty quickly. For that reason, it might not be a huge surprise that the inside of a kangaroo’s pouch is far from cold. It’s typically around 105 degrees Fahrenheit, matching the animal’s temperature. As for what the pouch feels like, Schwartz says the closest comparison is the skin of a person’s wrist. Suffice to say, the pouch is pretty soft.
It contains milk ducts
Joeys spend around four to five months in their mother’s pouch before they start venturing outside of it. They’re small and underdeveloped during this time, relying on the pouch for nutrition and support. That’s because the inside of the pouch has four milk ducts that the joey can use for sustenance. When the young animal climbs into the pouch after being born, it apparently latches onto the duct and is held in place for several months. So, even if it wanted to go somewhere else, it couldn’t.
Those ducts can produce different nutrients
Kangaroos are capable of having four joeys in a year, although many of them don’t tend to rush the process. In fact, their bodies are capable of holding off the embryo after mating so that it’s not implanted until the mother is ready. This means that the animals can wait until one joey is venturing out of the pouch before birthing another. Fortunately, their bodies are also capable of producing different milk nutrients for different ducts, so they can nurture joeys of different ages in one pouch.
It’s cleaned with the mother’s tongue
Could you imagine living in the same spot for the best part of half a year? By the time you left, that place would be pretty dirty, especially if you were only a baby. That’s certainly what happens in a kangaroo’s pouch, with joeys freely going to the toilet in there throughout their early months. Fortunately, the mother has a tactic for dealing with that, although it’s not something that many would find particularly appealing. It seems she puts her head in the pouch and removes everything with her tongue.
If you thought that pouches were nothing more than a convenient place for kangaroos to keep their young, now you know the truth.