Joey and the changes in Kangaroo’s milk

Kangaroos are one of the most fascinating mammals on Earth. Though physically limited to the Australian continent, they are well known across the world for their unique features – standing on hind legs, having a strong tail, ability to box, carrying their babies in their pouches and strong jumping capabilities. Today, we are going to learn about their little babies and I am sure, you will love to meet – Joey.

Kangaroo babies are called Joeys and are born after a 1-month gestation. Right after birth, the baby would climb or crawl to its mother’s nipples and attach themselves to one nipple. The baby will stay like for the next 15-weeks drinking and self-nourishing themselves.

This newborn baby (pouch joey) drinks milk that is different from the milk, which is consumed by its older siblings (joey at foot). Baby kangaroos that are much older than the newborn ones do not self-nourish themselves. They hop out of the pouch to roam and eat food and then come back to drink from their mother’s nipple that is not occupied by the newborn baby.

Why is kangaroo milk so special?

The formulation in kangaroo’s milk is said to change constantly over the years as the joey nurses. In simple words, newborn joeys drink a watery, immunity-rich, simple carb, and high protein milk.

Pouch joeys drink high protein, high carb, and fat milk. The Joey at foot drinks milk that contains a massive amount of carbs, protein, and fat. But if a Kangaroo has more than one child of different ages, then the milk composition is different for each of them. Milk provides them all the key nutrients that will help them in their development and growth. Kangaroo milk is known to be unique and special as it helps in protecting their premature baby and helps in the process of development.

Types of nutrients available in Kangaroo milk

Kangaroo milk is rich in proteins, and fats, which are essential for both newborn and fully-grown joeys. Kangaroo’s smaller cousins, known as Tammar Wallaby, produce sugar-rich milk for their joeys. Tammar Wallaby produces milk that contains 14% sugar, which is the highest level among the mammals. It is double the amount of sugar present in human milk. Apart from that, Kangaroo has a unique way of controlling what goes into milk, as it depends entirely on the age of the baby. The newborn joey’s drinks sugar-rich milk from one nipple, while the other older joey drinks milk filled with minerals and proteins and other nutrients.

So the momma kangaroo is able to produce different nutrient-filled-milk for each nipple dedicated for the baby based on its age! Moms and their ability to nurture!

PlantScience Fact:

The baby Joey, when it is born, cannot suckle or swallow milk on its own, so the mother pumps the milk down the Joey’s throat using her muscles.

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