Marsupials

Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 11429

Do you have a backpack to carry your stuff? Did you know some animals have a sort of "front pack" to carry their babies? Learn about an interesting group of animals, some of whom you may already know!

categories

Life Science

subject
Science
learning style
Visual
personality style
Lion
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

Can you name this interesting animal? Do you know what makes this animal — and others like it — special?

kangaroos

You may have recognized this animal as a kangaroo, but do you know why it's special?

It's a marsupial! Kangaroos, opossums, koalas, sugar gliders, wombats, and Tasmanian devils, are all common examples of marsupials.

  • Do you know what these animals have in common?

Share your answers with your parent or teacher.

Marsupials, like other classifications of animals, have certain characteristics in common. One feature all marsupials have in common is a pouch. Some marsupials have pouches that are more visible than others.

  • Can you see the pouch on the kangaroo to the left, and on the wallaby to the right?

Show your parent or teacher where the pouches are located on both animals:

kangaroo and wallaby pouches

Marsupials give birth to their babies early. The babies are underdeveloped, small, and fragile. They stay in the mother's pouch and get nutrients from the mother's milk. Marsupials stay in the mother's pouch for weeks, or sometimes even months! Read the list below to see how long different marsupials stay in their mother's pouch: 

  • kangaroos: six to eight months
  • wallabies: nine months
  • sugar gliders: sixteen days
  • koalas: six months
  • wombats: six to eight months
  • tasmanian devils: four months
  • Which marsupial stays in its mother's pouch the longest?
  • Which animal stays in its mother's pouch for the shortest amount of time?

Share your answers with your parent or teacher.

That's right! Wallabies stay in their mother's pouch the longest. Sugar gliders spend the shortest amount of time in their mother's pouch. They are ready to leave their mother's pouch by the time they are sixteen days (that's just a little more than two weeks) old! The picture below shows a sugar glider:

sugar glider

Marsupials are mammals. This means they all have the same characteristics as mammals. Mammals are vertebrates. This means they have a backbone. They are all warm-blooded creatures. This allows them to regulate their body temperature and keep it at a consistent rate during their lifetime. All mammals have fur or hair.

  • Can you see the fur on the Tasmanian devil below?

Tasmanian devil

One of the most fascinating things about mammals is that they give birth to live babies and feed their babies milk.

  • Can you think of some other mammals?

Tell your teacher or parent about other mammals you know.

To learn more about mammals, check out the Additional Resources lesson in the right-hand sidebar.

Before moving on to the next section, tell your parent or teacher something all marsupials have in common.

After you share your answer, move on to the Got It? section.

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