The Order Marsupialia
Pouched mammals
These animals have bones to support a pouch, but not all have external pouches. The young are born at such an early stage of development that the short period of gestation in the womb is followed by a further development period. The mother licks a path in her fur from the base of the tail to the teats, which are in the pouch when there is one, and the offspring crawls along and attaches itself to a teat. Like monotremes, marsupials have no nerve tissue connecting the hemispheres of the brain.
Family Didelphidae
Opossums: 65 species
These largely tree-dwelling animals, ranging from south-eastern Canada to Argentina, have a large, clawless great toe, set like a thumb in opposition to the other four digits. Most species have no pouch, and their gestation period is the shortest of any mammal - only 12-13 days. Opossums have 50 teeth.
opossum image
Family Dasyuridae
Australian native cats and marsupial mice: 45 species
A family of mammals whose pouch, if there is one, is poorly developed to conspicuous only in the breeding season.
Marsupial Cat image
Family Myrmecobiidae
There is one species: numbat or banded anteater Myrmecobius fasciatus found in western and southern Australia in open forest and scrub. A red-brown animal with six or seven white bands, a long tail and no pouch, it feeds on ants and termites.
Banded anteater image
Family Notoryctidae
Marsupial moles: 2 species
Australian burrowing mammals. Example: Southern marsupial mole Notoryctes typhlops inhabits deserts in South Australia. This mole-like animal has a horny knob on its short tail, and a horny shield on its nose which protects it when it digs its shallow burrows.
Family Peramelidae
Bandicoots: 19 species
Bandiccots, found in Ceram, New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania, have long, pointed flexible muzzles with which they root in the soil. Their ears are often large and their hind limbs are long.
Family Caenolestidae
Rat opossums: 7 species
These shrew-like marsupials from the forests of South America are the only marsupials apart from the opossums outside Australia. They have long heads and long sensory whiskers
No picture available
Family Phalangeridae
Phalangers or possums: 45 species
These tree-dwelling, plant eating mammals are found from Timor and Celebes to Tasmania.
Family Vombatidae
Wombats: 2 species
Wombats are large, burrowing, tail-less mammals with rodent-like grinding teeth. Some of their burrows extend for as much as 100 ft.
Hairy-nosed wombat Lasiorhinus latifrons: found in hilly regions of south-eastern Queensland and in southern parts of South Australia. It sleeps during the day in long burrows.
Family Macropodidae
Kangaroos: 52 species
Kangaroos, found in Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea, have small heads, large ears and long hind limbs and feet (the family name means "large-footed" animals). The tail, usually thick at the base, is used as a prop or additional leg, and to balance the kangaroo when it leaps.

[< Go Back]