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Smarter Every Day

Watch: This Is What The Inside of a Kangaroo's Pouch REALLY Looks Like

FIONA MACDONALD
3 AUG 2015

A couple of years ago, we invited Destin from Smarter Every Day over to Australia to celebrate National Science Week, and while he was here, he wanted to find out more about our adorable native wildlife... and run around and stick his hands in their pouches, as it turns out. As you can see in the episode above (guest-starring our Managing Director Chris!), he pretty quickly found out that a kangaroo pouch doesn't actually look or feel like you might imagine - it's a whole lot more stretchy and fleshy.

 

But first of all, Destin had to figure out a way to get his hands on a pouch. The first kangaroo he decided to check out turned out to be a male - and although Destin assumed that the fact that human males have nipples meant that male kangaroos would have pouches, that's not actually the case, and he was left feeling around the species' unique testes, which are located just above its penis.

Thankfully, he finally managed to find a female kangaroo, and a kind zookeeper at Taronga Zoo in Sydney lets him stick his hand - and camera - inside. This is the best chance most of us will have to see inside one of these unique biological adaptations, and it's pretty fascinating. It turns out that pouches aren't like pockets at all, they're actually very small openings in the fur that are able to stretch out to reveal a fleshy inside.

And unlike what you've seen in cartoons, joeys in their mum's pouches aren't all cute and fluffy - they crawl in there as hairless, tiny jellybeans, after only around a month of gestation in the womb. You can see that incredible process in the David Attenborough documentary below:

The rest of a joey's nine months of development are spent suckling on a teat in their mother's pouch before they're able to emerge and walk and feed themselves.

But don't take our word for it; check out the episode of Smarter Every Day above to find out more. And no, we don't recommend you try feeling up strange kangaroos at home, because those things sure can kick.