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Wallabies and Kangaroos: Macropodidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Kangaroos and wallabies portray a very diverse set of behaviors. Larger species tend to be diurnal, or mostly active during the day. Smaller species tend to be nocturnal, or mostly active at night. Smaller species are often solitary, while larger species often live or feed in groups of up to fifty animals called mobs. A few species are thought to be territorial. They live alone and defend their home area.

When male kangaroos or wallabies fight, they often do so by supporting themselves on their back legs, or even sometimes just their tail for short periods, and attack each other with the strong claws on their front paws. Sometimes they use their strong hind legs to kick out when they are lying on their sides. Females sometimes do this if males try to mate with them and they are not interested.

Like all marsupials, kangaroos and wallabies give birth to young that are not fully developed. These tiny newborns are blind, hairless, and cannot survive on their own. When they are born, they crawl into their mother's pouch where they attach to one of her nipples. This nipple usually swells, keeping the young in place while the mother moves. In some species the mother will let the young out of the pouch for short periods when it gets older. After the young matures, the mother will no longer let it return to the pouch. In some species it becomes what is called a "young-at-foot." During the young-at-foot period, the young kangaroo or wallaby stays with the mother and often suckles, but no longer re-enters the pouch. In some species there is no young-at-foot period.

Kangaroos and wallabies usually give birth to one baby at a time. In some species the female gives birth the same day another young leaves her pouch and becomes a young-at-foot. These species often mate the same day that they give birth, but the fertilized egg stops developing until the pouch-young is nearly old enough to leave the pouch. When the pouch-young is ready to leave, the next baby moves to the pouch.


Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsWallabies and Kangaroos: Macropodidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Wallabies, Kangaroos, And People, Eastern Gray Kangaroo (macropus Giganteus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS