Kangaroo Breeding


+ The red kangaroo breeds all year.
+ Females can begin breeding at one and a half years.
+ Normal gestation period is 33 days or about a month.
+ Females can have 3 joeys every 2 years.
+ Mother kangaroos may care for more than one joey at a time.


+ Males fight for potential mates by leaning on their tails while boxing, scratching, and biting.
+ Males will mate with more than one female.
+ There is no permanent association with the females.


+ Kangaroos are born the size of a cherry or lima bean.
+ Baby kangaroos are called joeys.
+ Joeys often stay in the pouch for 8 months, or about 235 days.
+ Nursing continues for about one year.

"Mold-a-rama" Kangaroo Reproduction

Milwaukee County Zoo makes "reproducing" kangaroos really fun. Check out the mold-a-rama video on our Fun Facts page.

Marsupials with Young "Joeys"

As we mentioned earlier, "Red Kangaroos are marsupials. That means they carry their young in a pouch until they are big enough to live on their own. Young kangaroos that can leave the pouch are called joeys. When first born, kangaroo babies are are hairless, blind and pretty tiny: about 2 cm, or the size a cherry. Once they are born, they crawl up the mother to the pouch where they find yummy refreshments. They hang out in the mother's pouch until they get bigger. They will need to drink a lot of milk to get to the right kangaroo size." (From page 5 of this wikispace, "Description of the Red Kangaroo")

But, Did You Know?

One interesting fact is that sometimes a little joey finds a big joey already in the pouch! This makes things pretty crowded. The cool thing is that each Joey has their own teat to drink from. The milk is different for tiny joeys than for "almost-ready-to leave-mom Joeys". In fact, tests have shown that the milk in each teat is different, one mix is for the older Joey, and the other for the younger one. It's amazing that they are able to find the right teat to drink from!

Very soon after the little joey arrives in the pouch, the older joey will have moved out on his or her own. The pouch offers a safe haven and restaurant for the growing joey. It will stay in the pouch for about 2 months before it emerges to check the world out. It will continue to dive into the pouch for cover until it is about 8 months old, at which point it barely fits in the space. It will be quite large by the time it leaves the pouch. Whenever the mother kangaroo needs to run, perhaps away from a predator, the baby hangs out in the pouch. You could say the Joey is along for the ride. It may not be very comfortable for the mother kangaroo to "run" with a joey, but seems to be an effective way of keeping the little one safe in what can be a very harsh, arid landscape. Kangaroos have adapted to a life with minimal water.