Out of the pouch, but still suckling

While this joey has been out of the pouch full-time since November, he still drinks his mother’s milk.

Female kangaroos can have one joey in the pouch and an older, almost independent joey out of the pouch but  still suckling, while an embryo waits, suspended, until the pouch is once again free.  I never tire of seeing the females tending their young.  They are so patient and attentive. Joeys usually vacate the pouch when they are 11 months old.  They suckle from their mother until they are  about 18 months old, as well as eating grass and drinking water.

The young male joey in this photograph is the same one who was wrestling with his mother in an earlier post.  It’s fascinating to see him turn from an energetic bundle of  muscles, racing around the dam or jumping and bumping into his mother, to a docile young kangaroo feeding.   Usually, he will suckle from her for about 15 minutes.  She takes the opportunity to grab a bite to eat, bending low and then standing up as she chews.  He follows her movements, occasionally looking up to see what is going on around them, then back to the milk.   All of this is happening outside my study window.  The lush green grass is growing on our septic tank overflow.  In Summer, when most of the grass is dry, it has proven to be a popular spot.

For those of you following the movements of the kangaroos, I haven’t seen the mob of five for a long time.  We seem to have this female and her male joey most of the time.  I think it may be the original female  returned. However, there is a second female who passes through occasionally. She has a female joey about the same age as this young male.  Recently, the adult males have been absent. We have one show up for a night here and there, but he never hangs around.

Most properties around here have larger mobs of kangaroos, so I’m not entirely sure why we tend to have lone females with their joeys.  While I wonder if a young male is stealing her away from the dominant male in a larger mob, I really don’t know.  This is only my theory.  I guess it is feasible that he leaves her here while trying to round up other females?  I don’t think it is food related.  There still seems to be a fair amount of vegetation to eat in our area, especially after recent rainfall. Whatever the reason, I will continue to ponder the mystery and post my observations.

Enjoy the photographs!

Although she waits while her joey feeds, the female is still very alert, listening to sounds and looking to make sure she is safe. The joey wiggles his ears to listen as well.
This young joey is quite large now. While he still has an awful lot of growing to do, he’s no longer a baby.
Mother and son both enjoy eating the lush grass growing over the septic tank overflow.

Let me know what you think!

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