Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wildlife on Wednesday ... Some Mother Do Have 'Em!


Mother Agile Wallabies (Macropus agilis) can have a busy breeding life, and they can live for up to 10 to 14 years of age.  After I've related some facts, you'll understand why I think these girls love having a bit of a rest ...


... even if getting a comfy rest is almost impossible!!  I'm thinking this little joey is probably a little uncomfortable, but it's the mother who looks far more uncomfortable!!!


Female Agile Wallabies can start breeding when they generally around 18 months of age ... talk about child brides!!!  I guess the rewards are great though.  Not only is the species healthy in numbers, I've observed that mothers and their offspring can have a seemingly very close relationship.

Breeding happens any time throughout the year for our northern tropics Agile wallaby females.  It's almost a continuous cycle ... what is termed 'aseasonal'.



A joey is born essentially in a 'fetal' state, at a very early stage of development.  It's blind, has no fur and is about the size of a jelly bean.

(Photo courtesy of Google images).





What's simply amazing to me is that this neonate can then crawl from the birth canal, across it's mother's very furry abdomen and into the pouch where it finds a teat that it can attach itself to.   What an incredible feat!


 While gestation only lasts for a month, pouch life for a joey can last seven to eight months. The mother plays a very important role in protecting and nurturing the young one until it is able to fend for itself.


Some joeys seem to overstay their welcome though.  This fellow seems a little big to be still trying to get back into his mother's pouch.  Ouch!


Although ... with such a sweet face, could any mother say no!


Most joeys are weaned at around ten to twelve months, but will then follow their mother around for about another twelve months before they become fully independent.  This is termed being a joey 'at foot'.

Females will often mate shortly after giving birth to a teeny joey.  The fertilised egg that results from the mating remains dormant ... this is known as embryonic diapause ... which means its development is temporarily halted until the older joey actually leaves the pouch and the 'vacant' sign goes up!  This little one becomes a joey 'in waiting'.

All this means that female Agile Wallabies can actually have three babies at a time ... a joey 'at foot', a joey 'in the pouch' and an 'embryo in stasis'.  Now that's one very busy Mum!!


The female in the photo above had both the joey 'at foot' and a joey 'in the pouch' ... but it was impossible for me to tell if she had a teeny tiny dormant embryo in waiting.  It's certainly a possibility, if there was a male handy at just the right time.


Sleep on Mum, I say ... sleep on!  You need all the energy you can possibly muster if this is your life for over ten years.

I'm joining the Windows On Wildlife meme for the first time today.  I'd encourage any other bloggers with a post about wildlife that you'd like to share to join me on this relatively new blog meme.


17 comments:

  1. Busy mom for sure! This is such a nice and educational post! Thanks. LT

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    1. You're welcome LE, I'm glad you enjoyed the read.

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  2. Very interesting, thankyou for that insight. Yes, I say sleep on too!!

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    1. Yep, they need all the rest they can get!

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  3. Wow, I didn't know all that! Poor mom. xo Jenny

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    1. I was fascinated too when I first found out about the busy lives of these mums.

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  4. A great series of photos and explanatory text to go with them. Poor mum she is a breeding machine. It is lovely how they care for their joeys.

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    1. Diane, I think it goes a long way to explaining why the numbers of these marsupials is so steady and healthy.

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  5. Loved leaning about Agile Wallabies - what a great educational post! I love mammals, but really am only familiar with North American species; this was a fun learning opportunity. Beautiful creatures with a fascinating life cycle.

    Thanks for joining Windows on Wildlife - I hope you'll share more of your Australian wildlife with us!

    - Cynthia

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    1. I'd by only too pleased to keep on sharing posts on your terrific meme, Cynthia. I was very pleased to find it.

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  6. How amazing Bernie. So tiny and like you said to be able to find its way. It does look to big to be climbing back into the pouch. Good grief no wonder their hind legs are space so far a part. It makes for better support for those loads. LOL! So cute!

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    1. Lol, I think you might be onto something there Lona!

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  7. I think the little wallabies are much cuter than the big Roos. I think they might be intimidating in a garden setting. I do hope you are feeling much better!

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    1. Hi Jean, still on the mend I'm afraid. I'm not shaking this as quickly as I'd hoped. I would agree that the little wallabies certainly do look a lot cuter than some of the big Kangaroos.

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    2. Take it easy and take your time. Some things are just harder to get over.

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  8. That is amazing. Thank you for this great post with story and photos.

    FlowerLady

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