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Australasian Carnivorous Marsupials: Dasyuromorphia

Behavior And Reproduction

Most Australasian carnivorous marsupials are nocturnal, meaning that they are only active at night. Some species, however, have shown occasional periods of daytime activity, and a few species such as the numbat are usually active only during the day.

Australasian carnivorous marsupials spend most of their time in the search for food. Each species has different ways of finding prey, from digging for termites, to climbing trees and raiding the nests of possums during the night, to feeding on the bodies of animals that are already dead.

Most Australasian carnivorous marsupials have relatively short life spans. Females usually mate with more than one male, and in many species, offspring born in the same litter have different fathers. Some species in this order only mate once during their lifetime. They usually die soon after reproducing, having used all their energy in a sudden burst of activity required to mate successfully. Antechinus (ant-uh-KINE-us), which are broad-footed marsupial mice, mate in this way. The female lives long enough to raise her young until they can live on their own, but the male often dies before his offspring are mature.

Australasian carnivorous marsupials, like all marsupials, have very short pregnancies, some lasting only days. They give birth to immature young that are usually blind and hairless, and always are unable to survive on their own. In most cases, the young make their way into the mother's pouch, which contains milk teats, and are carried with her wherever she goes. Some species have young that crawl to external teats, or nipples, of the mother. They cling there and are carried wherever the mother goes, protected only by the hairs on her underbelly. Many do not survive to maturity.

The amount of time the young spend growing outside of the mother's womb, or uterus, depends on the species. It can be as short as a few weeks or as long as many months. In most species, once the young have grown enough to fend for themselves, they spend a short amount of time in the mother's nest or den, wandering further each day to find food, until at last they leave the nest for good.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsAustralasian Carnivorous Marsupials: Dasyuromorphia - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, AUSTRALASIAN CARNIVOROUS MARSUPIALS AND PEOPLE