Marsupials are part of the mammal family, their distinctive characteristic is that they carry their young in a pouch. Close to 70% are found in Australasia while 30% are found in the Americas.
List of Marsupials
There are over 330 species of marsupials, below is a list of 17:
- Tasmanian Devil
- Sugar Glider
- Kangaroo Rat
- Tree Kangaroo
Common Marsupials | Facts & Pictures
Kangaroos are indigenous to Australia and New Guinea. They are the largest of the marsupials weighing up to 90kg and growing as tall as 2 meters. They are known as a symbol in Australia appearing on currency and the Australian coat of arms.
Tasmanian devils are carnivorous and are the largest of the carnivorous marsupials. They are generally solitary but do sometimes eat together. They are known for their extremely loud screech and ferocious feeding habits. The Tasmanian devil has the strongest bite per unit body mass of any predatory land mammal.
Koalas are found in Australia. These marsupials sleep for up to 18 hours per day and eat up to a kilo of eucalyptus leaves. They are considered a vulnerable species due to deforestation. Their brain to body ratio is one of the smallest of any mammal and they weigh between 4 and 15kg.
Opossums originated in South America but can also be found in North America as their flexible diet and reproductive habits make them great migraters and settlers. The interesting thing about these marsupials is their physiological reaction to perceived threats where the opossum will “play dead”, this involuntary response causes the lips to curl back baring their teeth, foam to appear around the mouth, the body to go stiff and curled and they will excrete a smell of decay.
Closely related to opossums the cuscus is typically nocturnal and so has large round eyes. They are solitary marsupials and only meet for mating. The cuscus has 5 strong fingers to help it grip branches as they live high in the treetops. Some types of cuscus are gliders allowing them to jump long distances and “glide” between treetops.
The planigale is the smallest of the marsupials weighing less than 5 grams. They are found in Western Australia and New Guinea but are rarely seen due to their size and secretive nature. These tiny marsupials are carnivores and eat mainly insects but will occasionally prey on small birds or lizards.
This marsupial has an unusual fact, their faeces are cube-shaped, this is so they can stack their faeces to mark their territory. They are herbivores eating mostly grasses, bark, and roots. A group of wombats is known as wisdom, mob, or colony. Wombats were once considered bush meat but they are now not eaten due to wombats having protected status.
Numbats are insectivores eating mostly termites, they can in fact eat over 20,000 termites in one day. Although not closely linked to any other existing marsupials they are diverged from other species existing around 40 million years ago. Although once found all over Australia they are now found only in small colonies in Western Australia, this is due to the release of the red fox in the 19th century which wiped out large portions of its population.
Mulgaras are tiny marsupials said to be perfectly adapted to the desert. They are carnivores eating mostly insects but will also eat reptiles and small mammals, they don’t drink and get all of their water from their food. They are nocturnal but will sunbathe close to their burrows. The mulgara is mainly found in central Australia.
These friendly marsupials have found popularity due to the fact they look like they’re always smiling. Quokkas are exclusive to Rottnest Island and Bald Island in Australia. They are herbivores eating a variety of leaves, stems, and grass, they also store a large amount of fat and water in their tails in case of emergencies. They are around 3-5 kilos and live for up to 15 years.
Marsupials are such an interesting and varied group of animals from the tiny planigale to the massive kangaroo they are all amazing in their own right. We still have so much to learn about the rare and lesser-seen marsupials. We’re sure there are going to be so many more facts in the future.