How do Kangaroos clean their Pouch? + Video

kangaroo pouch cleaning
A female kangaroo cleaning her pouch. Source: Jeremy Bezanger

Kangaroos clean their own pouch because dirt accumulates in it. But how do kangaroos clean their pouch?

A kangaroo cleans the pouch by licking it out. The animal loosens its muscles and opens the pouch with its own front paws. It then sticks its snout into the pouch and licks the pouch clean. In addition, the kangaroo produces antimicrobial substances that keep the pouch clean.

This video shows how a kangaroo cleans the pouch:

The kangaroo can easily lick around the young in the pouch. Young animals spend the first months of life exclusively in the pouch. Read this article to find out how long baby kangaroos of different kangaroo species stay in the pouch.

Cleaning at birth

If a kangaroo suddenly starts to clean the pouch regularly, this signals an imminent birth.

Shortly before the birth of a young animal, the mother once again cleans the pouch. The top priority is the purity of the pouch. This is to increase the chances of survival for the newborn.

This article describes the birth of a baby kangaroo. Did you know that the newborn, which is blind and small as a pea, independently climbs into the pouch?

The kangaroo not only cleans the pouch. Also the opening of the birth canal as well as the surrounding fur is intensively cleaned prior to giving birth. For this purpose, the mother animal licks the affected areas intensively.

This video shows the cleaning at birth:

After birth, the kangaroo cleans the fur and removes leaked blood and other leaked body fluids. The newborn, which climbs into the pouch during this process, is hardly noticed.

Why do kangaroos clean the pouch?

Kangaroos do not only clean the pouch at birth. Cleaning the pouch is part of the general body care.

The kangaroo pouch has an opening on the front by the female's belly. Only females have a pouch. But why do female kangaroos need to regularly clean the pouch?

Since kangaroos lie on the ground during the day, some dirt always gets into the pouch. This would accumulate at the bottom of the pouch over time. Therefore, the animal must lick out the pouch regularly.

Young kangaroos poop and pee in the pouch

a joey (red kangaroo)
A joey (red kangaroo). Source: Fiver, the psychic, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Young kangaroos spend the first months of life in the pouch. But what happens when baby kangaroos poop and pee? Do baby kangaroos poop and pee in the pouch?

Kangaroo babies poop and pee in the pouch of the mother. The mother must therefore regularly lick out the pouch so that it remains clean and the baby in the pouch does not get any diseases.

Young animals that grow up in the pouch cannot leave the pouch to defecate. The excrements therefore simply end up in the pouch. These would pile up over time at the bottom of the pouch and lead to diseases.

To prevent the development of diseases, the mother must regularly clean the pouch. Therefore, the mother licks out the pouch regularly.

There is no need to worry about the little joey inside the pouch. It is quite firmly attached to one of the four teats in the first months of its life.

In the pouch are also glands that produce an antimicrobial liquid. This ensures, in addition to the licking out of the pouch, that there are no dangerous pathogens in the pouch for the young animal.

Read this article to learn more about kangaroo pouches. Did you know that all kangaroos are born without pouches?

There are antimicrobial substances in the pouch and milk

a newborn kangaroo joey attached to a teat in the pouch
Source: Geoff Shaw, CC BY-SA 3.0

The young animal is born, as described in this article, after about a month of development. The newborn is blind, skinless, about two centimeters tall, and barely recognizable as a kangaroo. The picture shows what a kangaroo looks like shortly after birth.

The newborn must nevertheless cope with external influences such as diseases and contamination. An important aspect is a clean pouch in which the animal can grow.

Scientists have discovered some clever ways that kangaroos can cope better with outside influences.

Antimicrobials play an important role in protecting the immune system of the young animal.

The skin in the mother's pouch produces the following antimicrobial substances:

Furthermore, the milk that kangaroos drink in the first months of life contains antimicrobial substances such as antibodies (immunoglobulins), lysozymes, transferrin, and cathelicidins. This protects the newborn until its own immune system can develop.

Summary: How does the kangaroo pouch stay clean?

The kangaroo pouch stays clean by licking it out as well as producing antimicrobial substances. The female kangaroo regularly sticks her snout into the pouch and licks out the inside of the pouch. In addition, the skin inside the pouch produces an antimicrobial substance that kills bacilli.

Only female kangaroos need to regularly clean the pouch. Male kangaroos do not have a pouch and do not help clean other kangaroo’s pouches.

Further information: