Marsupials


Marsupials are characterised, by the presence of a pouch in which they rear their young.

Australia has the world's largest, and most diverse range of marsupials.


Numbat's long tongue used for catching termites

The carnivorous marsupials order Dasyuromorphia, are represented by two surviving families, the Dasyuridae with 51 members, and the Myrmecobiidae with the numbat as its sole surviving member.


Tamanian Tigers in captivity 1930's

The Tasmanian Tiger was the largest Dasyuromorphia and the last living specimen of the family Thylacinidae however, what appears to have been the last known specimen died in captivity in 1936.




Tasmanian Devil

The world's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial is the Tasmanian Devil, it is the size of a small dog and can hunt, although it is mainly a scavenger. It became extinct on the mainland some 600 years ago, and is now found only in Tasmania.



Quoll (native cat)

There are four species of quoll, or native cat, all of which are threatened species.






Marsupial mouse (Brown Antechinus)

The remainder of the Dasyuridae are referred to as 'marsupial mice' most weigh less than 100 g.





Marsupial Mole

There are two species of Marsupial Mole Notoryctemorphia that inhabit the deserts of Western Australia, these rare blind and earless carnivorous creatures, spend most of their time underground,little is known about them.





Bilby                                              Sugar Glider                                   Bandicoot

The Sugar Glider,the bandicoots and bilbies Peramelemorphia,are marsupial omnivores. There are seven species in Australia, most of which are endangered. These small creatures share several characteristic physical features: a plump, arch-backed body with a long, delicately tapering snout, large upright ears, long, thin legs, and a thin tail. The evolutionary origin of this group is unclear, because they share characteristics from both carnivorous and herbivorous marsupials.



Koala Bear and baby

The Koala does not normally need to drink, because it can obtain all of the moisture it needs by eating leaves.Herbivorous marsupials are classified in the order Diprotodontia, and further into the suborders Vombatiformes and Phalangerida. The Vombatiformes include the Koala and the three species of wombat. One of Australia's best-known marsupials, the Koala is an arboreal species that feeds on the leaves of various species of eucalyptus.

Baby Wombat

Wombats, on the other hand, live on the ground and feed on grasses, sedges and roots. Wombats use their rodent-like front teeth and powerful claws to dig extensive burrow systems; they are mainly crepuscular and nocturnal.


Little Pygmy Possum

 
The Phalangerida includes six families and 26 species of possum and three families with 51 species of macropod. The possums are a diverse group of arboreal marsupials and vary in size from the Little Pygmy Possum, weighing just 7g, to the cat-sized Common Ringtail and Brushtail possums. The Sugar and Squirrel Gliders are common species of gliding possum, found in the eucalypt forests of eastern Australia, while the Feathertail Glider is the smallest glider species. The gliding possums have membranes called 'patagiums' that extend from the fifth finger of their forelimb back to the first toe of their hind foot. These membranes, when outstretched, allow them to glide between trees.


Kangaroo flexing his muscles

Finally the macropods are divided into three families, the Hypsiprymnodontidae, with the Musky Rat-kangaroo as its only member, the Potoroidae, with 11 species; and the Macropodidae, with 45 species. Macropods are found in all Australian environments except alpine areas.


Tasmanian Betongs

The Potoroidae include the bettongs, potaroos and rat-kangaroos, small species that make nests and carry plant material with their tails.


Mountain Wallabies

The Macropodiae include kangaroos, wallabies and associated species; size varies widely within this family. Most macropods have large hind legs and long, narrow hind feet, with a distinctive arrangement of four toes, and powerfully muscled tails, which they use to hop around. The Musky Rat-kangaroo is the smallest macropod and the only species that is quadrupedal not bipedal, while the male Red Kangaroo is the largest, reaching a height of about 2 m and weighing up to 85 kg.