When I think of Australia I immediately think of the kangaroo. The kangaroo, a marsupial is originally from Australia. Marsupials have pouches. The baby kangaroo or joey is born but is super tiny and moves into the mother’s pouch where it grabs hold of a teat. It is not strong enough to suck so the mother pumps the milk down its throat until it is strong enough to suckle and swallow. The joey stays in this pouch all the time at first and then begins to get out for short periods to exercise its legs at around 4 months old. It will go in and out of the pouch for another three months. Here is a video from Smarter Everyday about kangaroo pouches. (I love Smarter Everyday and encourage you to check them out sometime).
Another really interesting animal in Australia is the platypus. Like a superhero, the platypus can change in significant ways to adapt as needed to different environments. It has webbed feet for swimming that can retract to reveal feet with nails that can move it quickly across land. It has a snout that looks like a duck bill that is used like a radar to locate food on the bottom of the lake. The males retain spurs on their hind legs after birth that are venomous and are usually used in battle with other males during reproduction season. It is one of two types of mammals that actually lay eggs. The females seal themselves in burrows near the water’s edge and lay their eggs. After only 10 days the eggs hatch and like the kangaroo the babies are very tiny, about the size of a bean. The mother nurses her young for several months until they are big enough to swim.
The Koala comes from Australia as well. People often incorrectly call them Koala bears but they aren’t bears. They are marsupials like kangaroos. The baby, or joey is born the size of a jelly bean and lives in a pouch living off milk and substance from the mother’s intestine called pap. This pap is needed to digest the eucalyptus leaves that the koala lives on. The eucalyptus leaves are not rich in nutrients and the koala needs to sleep a lot to conserve energy and allow for the needed energy to digest the harsh food. They are nocturnal (active primarily at night). They don’t live close to one another and have their own ranges or areas of control. The males have a scent gland that they rub on tree limbs to mark their territories.
There are several more types of animals the are indigenous to Australia but one of the animals living there now in great numbers isn’t and it’s causing a big problem. Camels were brought to the continent in the 19th century for transport and heavy work but with invention they were no longer as needed. Now there are over a million feral (wild) camels that roam Australia. They are causing damage to the land and taking up resources of the indigenous creatures. Australia is working to reduce the number of camels and as you would imagine, there is not full agreement in how that should be done. Here is a site dedicated to documenting the camel problem.
Australia is full of animals and eighty percent are indigenous to the country. Take a look at where the country is and you can see why. There are some really interesting looking animals and they are fun to study. Some of the lovely sites I found that you may wish to check out: This blog post by Luke Plunkett and Australia animals with pictures.