There are many people who are a bit confused about this topic because there are some unique things about kangaroos as far as their genetics are concerned. But are kangaroos mammals?
Yes, Kangaroos are mammals. This is because they belong to the family of marsupials. Marsupials are a sub-type of mammals. When we talk about marsupials, we are referring to the female species that have pouches that come with mammary glands. The young ones live and feed in these pouches till such time they are mature and old enough to emerge and be on the ground.
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What are the unique characteristics of marsupials?
If we have to clearly understand why kangaroos are mammals, we need to know something more about marsupials. These groups of animals are also referred to as pouched mammals.
To begin with, they reproduce not by hatching and incubation and hatching of eggs. They mate and copulate and the new kangaroos are born out of the womb of the adult female kangaroos. They do give birth. However, unlike many mammals, kangaroos and other marsupials do not have long gestation periods that are often associated with placental mammals.
These groups of animals, including kangaroos, are known to give birth quite early in the day. The young ones are extremely fragile and many of them are still in the embryo stage.
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The young and almost helpless little ones have no other option but to climb from the mother’s birth canal to the nipples of their mothers. The little embryo-stage babies grab the nipples and feed on the milk till such time they are big and strong enough to be on the land and move around with their mothers and other members of the clan.
The growth story of the little one takes weeks and it depends on the species including the kangaroos. These species of mammals have a shorter gestation period because of a few obvious reasons. As far as the kangaroo is concerned, it is because of the yolk-type placenta that is located in the marsupial mothers.
However, when it comes to other types of placental mammals, the little ones get their nourishment from the blood supply of the other and this perhaps explains the longer gestation time when compared to marsupials like kangaroo and a few others belonging to this species.
However, there are some similarities as far as these marsupials and mammals are concerned. Kangaroo little ones also have skin that is covered with hair. Mother kangaroos take a lot of care to nurse their young. Many mothers nurse their young kangaroos even when the little ones have grown to the size of their mothers.
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A little more about their offspring
Understanding a few more things about kangaroos and their offspring could also provide some fascinating and interesting insights.
As mentioned a few times above, kangaroos make use of their pouch to carry their young ones. The gestation period of kangaroos is very short, and it mostly lasts between 21 to 38 days. The mothers are known to give birth to four offspring in one go, but such instances are few and far between.
The little ones are called joeys and at birth, the size of a joey could be as tiny as a grain of rice. A large-sized offspring could be as big as a bee. They measure around 5 to 25 millimeters. As soon as joey is born, the mother ensures that it goes safely in the comfort of its pouch. It gestates for almost 120 to 45 days inside the pouch.
It would also be important to mention here that the little ones urinate and defecate inside the pouch. The pouch is lined uniquely and it may help in absorbing quite a bit of the mess. However, many times, the mother is not left with any other option but to clean the mess.
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She uses her tongue to remove the contents. There is also one more important aspect that happens during such cleaning. The young and helpless joeys will remain attached to the mother’s nipple. But the grown-up ones will be kicked out, temporarily, till such time the cleaning process is completed.
The above would have cleared many doubts as to whether Kangaroos are mammals. Yes, they are very much mammals though they belong to a sub-species known as marsupials.