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Rat-Kangaroos: Potoroidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Rat-kangaroos are nocturnal, which means they are awake and do most of their foraging (searching) for food at night. Most of the daylight hours are spent sleeping, most often in a nest. They build nests out of grass, leaves, and other plant material. Many species get the plant material to their nests by curling their prehensile tail around it and holding it against their rump to keep it steady as they carry it to their nest.

Female rat-kangaroos give birth to one baby at a time. The baby is born after around three weeks of pregnancy. When it is born, it is blind, hairless, and not able to live on its own. The newborn crawls into the mother's pouch and attaches it to one of the mother's nipples where it remains until it is mature enough to survive outside the pouch. Once the young animal leaves the pouch, it becomes a "young-at-foot." During this stage, it follows its mother around and still suckles, nurses, but it is not allowed to get back in the mother's pouch. After another period of development, the young rat-kangaroo goes off on its own. Rat-kangaroos do not usually live in groups after the young mature.

On the night that the female gives birth, she mates again. The egg that is fertilized during that mating stops developing until just before the young that is in the mother's pouch is almost old enough to leave the pouch. The same night that the young leaves the pouch, the mother gives birth to a new baby that then crawls into the pouch that just recently been vacated. After this new baby is born, the mother will mate again. This cycle continues, which means that there are often four generations of rat-kangaroos together: a mother, a young-at-foot, a young in the pouch, and a developing baby that has not yet been born.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsRat-Kangaroos: Potoroidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Rat-kangaroos And People, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT