The Zoologist/4th series, vol 4 (1900)/Issue 704/New-born Kangaroo, le Souef
No. 704.—February, 1900.
"HOW DOES THE NEW-BORN KANGAROO GET
INTO THE MOTHERS POUCH?"
By D. le Souëf, C.M.Z.S., &c.; Asst. Dir. Zoological
Having seen an article under the above heading in a recent number of 'The Zoologist' (1899, p. 368), in which it was stated that there is evidently much confusion on this interesting question, I thought it would be a help to state what has been observed in a wild specimen of the Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus). When the young one is ready to be born, the mother sits down on the ground, resting on the upper portion of the base of her tail, and with that appendage resting level on the ground in front of her (Plate I., fig, 1, upper figure); she then holds her pouch open with her two fore-paws, and, as the helpless mite is born, it rests on the soft fur of the under side of the tail. The mother immediately transfers it to her pouch with her lips only, and evidently with great care attaches it to the nipple. The mouth of the young one is apparently only a round hole, and it as yet has no power of suction; but the nipple is of a peculiar shape, with the point hard, and the mother is thereby enabled to insert it into the mouth of the young one. She then holds it in position while she forces the milk into the nipple, which thereby swells out and holds the young one on; but if, after being once firmly attached, it is pulled off, it cannot be replaced, even by the mother, for the end of the nipple now being flaccid instead of hard cannot well be inserted into the mouth of the little one.
The illustrations show the fœtus about two days before birth (Plate I. fig. 2); also the young one about life-size, just as it had been born, but not transfixed to the nipple (Plate I. fig. 3); and the nipple with the hardened point just ready for the young one (Plate I. fig. 3). It will be noticed how immature the little one is, and also that its fore legs are much larger than its hind ones. I have the specimens here shown in spirits. It has not yet been proved, as far as I am aware of, how long after birth the young one is able to draw nourishment for itself—probably three months.
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