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Macropod facts for kids

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Red-necked Wallaby
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Diprotodontia
Suborder: Macropodiformes
Family: Macropodidae
Gray, 1821

Macropods are marsupials belonging to the family Macropodidae. That family includes kangaroos, wallabies, tree-kangaroos, pademelons, and several others. They are native to Australia, New Guinea, and their surrounding islands. Before European settlement, there were about 65 species of Macropods. Six species have since become extinct. Another 11 species have been greatly reduced in numbers.

Physical description

Modern Macropods are herbivores. They have specialized teeth made for grinding up fibrous plants. Macropods usually have a row of broad, straight front teeth, no canines, and a gap before their large molars.

The stomachs of the Macropods contain lots of bacteria that help them to digest their food by breaking it down for them. Macropods have a certain blend of bacteria in their stomachs that lowers the amount of methane produced.

Macropods come in all different sizes. Almost all have a powerful tail and large back legs. The word Macropod comes from the Greek "large foot". These long legs allow Macropods to move quickly, and for long distances.

Gestation lasts approximately one month. In larger species, it lasts a little longer. Usually a single offspring is born. It attaches itself to a teat inside the mother's pouch. The offspring is able to leave the pouch after 5-11 months. It is sexually mature at 1-3 years old, depending on the species.

Fossil record

Marsupials evolved about 160 million years ago during the Jurassic period. The oldest Macropod fossil found is about 12 million years old.

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