How long do joeys stay in the pouch?

Baby kangaroos famously hunker in their mother's pouch while young - but how long till they hop free? 

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Gray kangaroo

Grey kangaroo joey in its mother's pouch © John Carnemolla/iStock

 

Unlike the young of most other mammals, baby kangaroos are highly underdeveloped and embryo-like at birth. After a gestation of up to 34 days, the jellybean-sized youngster makes the journey from birth canal to pouch by clambering up through its mother’s fur. Once safely in the pouch, the joey suckles solidly for just over two months. 

At around six months, once the youngster is sufficiently well developed, it will leave the pouch for short periods, returning when it needs to feed. Red kangaroos leave the pouch for good at around eight months and continue to suckle for another three to four months; grey kangaroos leave at about 11 months, continuing to suckle until they are as old as 18 months.

Interestingly, female kangaroos are able to suckle two youngsters simultaneously – one in the pouch and one outside, offering two different types of milk, as well as having an egg ready for implantation. 

 

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