Friday, May 20, 2011

One small step - Merrilyn's Story Part 5

The first time a joey leaves the pouch is an incredibly dangerous time.  In the wild a female kangaroo will find a sheltered place away from other kangaroos.  If something happens in the few seconds the joey is out of the pouch it could spell disaster.  If the mother has to flee and the joey can't find the pouch in a split second it will be left behind as nature determines it can save the mother and produce another joey for the future, but if the mother stays both may be lost.  If the mother is inexperienced the joey may be in distress if it can't find it's way back to the pouch quickly and may suffer illness as a consequence of high stress levels.

The joey doesn't actually hop out.  The mother releases the muscles that keeps the pouch tight to her and the joey basically rolls out.  The first time it happens is a huge shock to the joey who simply turns around and hops straight back in.

A wild mother instinctively knows when the time is right, but as a human carer you have to judge it on weight and development.  If you try too early, you risk the fragile back legs that must develop properly to ensure they can flee predators.  Sometimes a joey will simply let you know it's time by trying to get out, especially wallabies.  However I found eastern grey kangaroos would happily stay pouch bound forever.  When the day finally arrived to see if Merrilyn was ready, I carefully laid the pouch down to mimic the release of the pouch muscles.  

Merrilyn came out tentatively and instinctively came straight towards me as she know thought of me as her mother.

I had a pouch liner ready and Merrilyn tumble turned straight into it, happy to be back in security.

And so the process begins.  The joey needs to hop out more often and stay out for longer periods as it gradually grows.  Merrilyn very quickly sorted out how to turn and find her way back to her pouch.

And for those of you wondering about Buster.  Well he and Merrilyn developed a friendship after Merrilyn's initial feisty greeting.

Until next time...

Have you missed the rest of the story?  Catch up here.


  1. Oh, how cute. But boy! These guys are labour -intensive.

  2. Such an amazing story!! They are so fragile as babies and when grown they seem so large, strong and fast! The pouch you had for her seems perfect as if you were her mother and so perfectly comfortable in it all!

    More, please!!

  3. So darn cute! I know it's a lot of work, but you make it sound like a labor of love and the pictures are truly worth a thousand words! Thanks so much for sharing this. It would be a wonderful teaching segment for a school.

  4. I would never have guessed how complicated the path to independence is for a joey. I love this story and hope to be able to find it in a bookstore someday.

  5. My kids are so taken by this - just lovely.
    Thanks for linking up to Time Travel Tuesday, come back next week ok :)

  6. These are exquisite Cheryl. Makes me want to get out and see a kangaroo. In reply to your question, the weather is currently glorious in Brisbane, sorry. They keep telling us it's going to turn cold, then it's 27%, ha ha.


  7. Such a lovely post! So happy to hear from you! Emma at Tightwad

  8. I have to say that's probably the cutest thing I've ever seen! You are so lucky to be able to work with such beautiful animals :)

    Now I'm going to have to invest myself in Merrilyn's story and read parts 1-4! Lol

  9. Is it ok if I share this on the wall of the Homeschoolers? - the kids will all love this!

  10. Hi everyone, so thrilled you are all enjoying Merrilyn's story - there is a lot to come. Yes fine to share this link on the homeschoolers wall - in fact spread it far and wide as my hope is that by more people understanding about these beautiful creatures that we'll be able to save some space for them in this world. Thanks for the comments and for coming by.

  11. Hey Cheryl! You raise kangaroos? That's wild.
    Thanks for visiting my blog. Go ahead and sign up for the blogfest now. Then on June 6, post your favorite three games and visit others participating in the blogfest. It's that simple! And a lot of fun. This is the fourth blogfest I've hosted and they just keep getting bigger and better.

  12. Your story is just stunning. I am truly amazed at the growth and development path of our magnificent Eastern Greys.


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