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Kangaroo Pouch Facts: What They Are & What’s Inside

Kangaroo pouches are pocket-like body openings on female kangaroos. They are used to nurse their newborn children, where they are kept warm and suckle on the female’s nipples. Kangaroo pouches are almost furless on the inside.

Kangaroos are iconic Australian mammals known for their jumping, unique look, and strong limbs.

But one of their most characteristic features is their pouch.

In this article, we will reveal everything you need to know about kangaroo pouches, what they look like, and what they are used for.

What Is a Kangaroo Pouch?

Kangaroo pouches are pockets of skin. They function as a second womb and exist for the protection of newborn babies. Joeys climb into their mother’s pouch and attach themselves to a teat. Babies stay in the pouch for up to a year.

Kangaroo babies (called joeys) are born after only a month. As a result, they are severely underdeveloped compared to other animals’ newborns.[1]

Kangaroo pouches (called marsupium) differ from species to species, but there aren’t many varying features.[2] 

Some features and facts are present in every kangaroo species’ pouches:

  • Used for nursing their children
  • Almost hairless on the inside
  • Textured like kangaroo skin on the inside
  • Present on female kangaroos
  • Contains the nipples
  • Stretchable
What Is a Kangaroo Pouch

What Do Kangaroo Pouches Look Like?

Kangaroo pouches look like a pocket or a stretched hole between their legs. The inside is hairless and contains nipples.

Marsupial pouches are not always apparent. Kangaroos that haven’t had theirs stretched out yet (which happens after they have their first child) have tight and unnoticeable pouches.[3]

What Do Kangaroo Pouches Look Like on the Outside?

Pouches are located on the front of kangaroos’ bodies. The opening starts in line with the base of their legs or lower. The opening is stretchable and narrow. Stretched-out openings are oval.[4]

What Do Kangaroo Pouches Look Like on the Inside?

The inside of a kangaroo pouch is hairless.[5] They are soft and warm. Pouches are lined with powerful muscles, so mothers can close the opening.

You will find the following on the inside of a kangaroo pouch:

  • Hairless skin
  • Four nipples
  • Sweat glands releasing antimicrobial susbtances[6]

How Kangaroo Babies Use the Pouch

Kangaroos have one pouch. The pouch is capable of nursing up to three joeys, although not from the same age group. The teats inside the pouch produce types of milk with different nutritional values for the varying life stages of the joeys.

Kangaroos usually give birth to one baby annually, so they only need one pouch to nurse them. 

Joeys are born outside the pouch, whereafter they climb up and get inside it.

How Kangaroo Babies Use the Pouch

How Many Joeys Can Fit in a Kangaroo Pouch?

Two kangaroos can fit in the same pouch. These two kangaroos are not the same size, as only one kangaroo is born at a time.

When a female gives birth to another baby, the newborn and the one-year-old joey can coexist in the same pouch.

A third baby could be waiting as an embryo in its mother’s womb. They are born only after the previous joey has left the pouch for good. This unique process is called embryonic diapause.

What Do Kangaroos Eat in a Pouch?

Joeys consume their mother’s milk in the pouch. There are four teats inside which the babies can suckle on.

Each teat produces different types of milk according to each of the children’s nutritional needs.[7] 

For example, one teat produces milk with sulfur to help grow hair on one of their babies, while a joey that has grown fur feeds on another teat.

How Big Are Kangaroo Pouches?

Kangaroo pouches are stretchable, so there is no exact size for them. Kangaroo joeys leave their mother’s pouch between eight and ten months old, so pouches can stretch up to the size of a kangaroo of that age.

Pouches stretch over time as the joey grows inside of it. There is no exact size, as the pouch can be completely shut tight and stretch up to the size of a young kangaroo.

Kangaroo mothers’ pouches need to support their babies’ weight and size until they are old enough to leave the pouch. 

Joeys leave the pouch between the ages of eight months and ten months. They weigh up to 11 pounds at this point.

How Big Are Kangaroo Pouches

How Big Are Different Kangaroo Species’ Pouches?

The size of joyes from different kangaroo species can give an idea of how big kangaroo pouches can be.[8]

Here is a comparison of the size and weight of joeys from different kangaroo species.[9]

SpeciesAge baby leaves the pouch permanentlySizeWeight
Red Kangaroo~8 monthsTail: ~17.5 inchesFoot: ~7.6 inches~9.7 pounds
Grey Kangaroo~10 monthsTail: ~19.6 inchesFoot: ~9 inches~11.1 pounds
Red-necked Wallaby(Bennet’s Kangaroo)~9 monthsTail: ~18.2 inchesFoot: ~6.3 inches~6.2 pounds
Swamp Wallaby~8.5 monthsTail: ~6 inchesFoot: ~4.7 inches~5.1 pounds
Euro-Kangaroo (Wallaroo)~8 monthsTail:~17 inchesFoot:~6.7 inches~7.2 pounds

What Are Kangaroo Pouches Used For?

Kangaroo pouches are only used to carry their babies. Kangaroos do not carry anything other than their babies in their pouches.

Pouches act like a secondary womb. Babies are born after around a month. They are underdeveloped and about one inch long at this point.

Babies climb into their mother’s pouches after birth. There, they suckle on teets and keep warm until they are old enough to leave the pouch.

Kangaroo pouches are completely clean. Their babies are extremely vulnerable when they enter the pouch, so mothers do not carry anything that could make the inside dirty.

What Are Kangaroo Pouches Used For

Kangaroo Pouches Compared to Human Wombs

The most comparable human organ to pouches is the womb. Several differences, like their position, feeding method, and general function make pouches and wombs vastly different.

Kangaroos have wombs, so their pouches are more like secondary wombs for them. 

Although the womb is the most similar organ to pouches, there are major differences between the two:

  1. Position
  2. Feeding
  3. General function

1. Position

Pouches are located on the outside of kangaroos’ bodies, while wombs are internal organs. Wombs are fleshy organs on the female pelvis. Kangaroo pouches are not organs, but pocket-like openings with hairless skin inside located on their bellies.

2. Feeding

Kangaroo Pouches Compared to Human Wombs

Human wombs feed their fetuses through umbilical cords. Kangaroos do not have umbilical cords, and joeys feed on teats.

3. General Function

Human wombs contain and nourish fertilized eggs until the baby is developed enough to be born. Kangaroo pouches contain babies that have already been born and serve to nourish them until they are ready to be independent.


Kangaroo pouches are called marsupium. They are body openings on female kangaroo bellies that are hairless on the inside. Pouches act as a secondary womb.

Pouches are used to keep kangaroo babies safe. They contain four nipples and sweat glands that produce antimicrobial substances. Newborn kangaroos climb inside their mother’s pouch and stay there until they are grown enough to be independent.


Do Male Kangaroos Have Pouches?

No, male kangaroos do not have pouches. Only female kangaroos have pouches, as they are the only ones that need to nurse newborn babies. Male kangaroos would have no use for pouches, so they do not have them.

Are Kangaroo Babies Born in Pouches?

No, kangaroo babies are not born in pouches. The underdeveloped babies are born after about 30 days of gestation and have to climb up to their mother to reach the pouch. Babies are blind at birth and use their instincts to climb.

How Do Kangaroo Pouches Stay Clean?

Female kangaroos lick their pouch’s inside to clean them out. Kangaroo pouches need to be relatively clean for their babies’ health, so they do not carry anything that could contaminate them inside.

Can Humans Ride in Kangaroo Pouches?

No, humans can’t ride in kangaroo pouches. Although they are stretchy, pouches aren’t able to support the weight and size of even a smaller human child. You shouldn’t try to fit in a kangaroo’s pouch because the kangaroo can get seriously hurt.

Do All Marsupials Have Pouches?

No, not all marsupials have pouches. Although marsupial is derived from the Latin word for pouch, not every marsupial fits the description. For example, the short-tailed opossum has no pouch or even fold.

About Misfit Animals Staff

The Misfit Animals staff consists of animal lovers, pet enthusiasts, veterinarians, zoologists, and other animal experts. Our goal is to provide people with information on proper animal care.

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