Koalas, the most famous of all Australian animals, are often thought to have pouches similar to kangaroos.
However, this is not the case!
A closer look at koala anatomy reveals that there is no room for a pouch; what we see as a “pouch” is actually an extension of their normal stomach.
Perhaps what we see as a “pouch” is where their joeys sit while being born and raised by their mothers.
In fact, when a baby koala is born it is only the size of a jellybean.
It then crawls into its mother’s pouch, where it will remain for just under six months.
Here it suckles on its mother’s milk and develops from a tiny baby to a fully grown joey.
Do Koalas Have Pouches?
Koalas, like other marsupials such as kangaroos and Tasmanian devils, don’t have pouches.
The large flap hanging down from the belly is actually an extension of their stomach.
There’s no room in there for a baby to fit.
Joeys leave the pouch shortly after birth and crawl up the belly to the safety of their mother’s back where they spend most of their time.
Koalas are the only marsupials that feed their young on milk from their teats, which are located inside the pouch.
The joeys of other marsupials drink their mother’s milk while clinging to her fur outside the pouch.
The pouch that we think is a pouch, isn’t.
What Exactly are These Koala Pouches?
Koalas have pouches but, as has been reiterated, it is an “extension” of their normal stomach.
The flap hanging down from the belly is actually stretchy skin that koalas use to hold their babies in place while the mother is moving around.
This is known as the marsupium.
When koalas are first born, they are blind and hairless.
They leave their mother’s pouches after just six to seven weeks and spend most of their time on their mothers’ back, clinging onto her fur with their tiny claws.
Young joeys remain dependent on their mothers for another six to eight months, at which time they start to venture off on their own.
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