Does a Kangaroo Pouch Smell? Answered!

Last updated on September 3rd, 2022

Have you ever seen a joey poking its head out of its mother’s pouch?

It is probably one of the most adorable sights, and when I took my fourth-grade students to the local zoo to see a mother kangaroo, the kids were delighted to see the joey poke its head out of the pouch.

Curious as I was, surely the kangaroo will have to clean her pouch when the young one leaves but does the kangaroo’s pouch smell?

Kangaroo pouches do smell because it’s an enclosed area that nurtures the joey and these joeys tend to poop & pee which can eventually lead to the mum’s pouch producing a foul smell. Also, as the joey matures, it begins to leave the mother’s pouch to play and will carry dirt from outside back into the pouch.

Why do kangaroo pouches smell?

According to the website as long as the joeys live inside their mothers’ pouches, they poop and pee inside them.

As a result, the pouch of a mother kangaroo with a joey inside will get quite dirty. Hence, the kangaroo pouch will tend to emanate a foul odor.

However, the pouch of a female kangaroo with no joey will not produce any foul smell.

Therefore, if you find that a kangaroo’s pouch is producing a foul odor, you can be assured that there is a baby kangaroo inside it.

Sometimes young kangaroos leave their mothers’ pouches and play outside, then return to the pouches.

They carry the dirt from outside, which can produce foul smells. Hence, mother kangaroos must lick their pouches clean to prevent foul smells.

What is inside the pouch of a kangaroo like?

mother kangaroo and baby kangaroo in pouch 13082022

When a baby kangaroo is born, it is known as ‘jellybean’ and climbs the mother’s furry body to reside in the pouch until it is old enough to climb out.

The baby kangaroo is quite helpless, and the ‘jellybean’ grows into a ‘joey’ and finally a baby kangaroo capable enough to leave the pouch.

They stay in their mothers’ pouches for eight months, and during this period, they stay latched to their mother’s teat.

This is because kangaroos are mammals, and they suckle their young ones. The pouches provide the joeys with the safety, security, and food they need to grow into young kangaroos.

Does the pouch of male kangaroos smell?

When my fourth graders asked this question, the zookeeper could not stop smiling!

She first clarified that male kangaroos do not have pouches because they do not care for the young ones. Hence, they do not have to worry about ‘their pouches becoming smelly’!

Only the female kangaroos nurture the young ones; hence, they need the pouches. 

Can the mother kangaroo clean her pouch?

A mother kangaroo can clean her pouch even when her baby is inside. You will find that the mother kangaroo usually puts her long snout-like face into her pouch and lick the inside clean.

She can do it even when her baby is inside her pouch. If the baby is relatively small, the joey usually suckles while the mother cleans the pouch.

Do Joeys poop in the pouch?

Kangaroos don’t just let their joeys use any old toilet; the joeys poop in the pouch and it has to be cleaned regularly by the mom. 

Do mother kangaroos clean their pouches before birth?

This is a unique activity carried out by mother kangaroos before giving birth.

This is because the pouches of kangaroos tend to get dirty and smelly once the joeys start living there, but otherwise, too, the pouches can become dirty because it has only one upward opening.

Hence, to ensure that the jellybean has a clean and safe environment to live in once it is born, you will find that the mother kangaroo takes pain to clean the pouch before the baby kangaroo is born.

What will happen if two joeys share the same pouch?

Two joeys rarely have to share the same pouch of a kangaroo, but it is not unheard of.

According to the website, there have been cases where two joeys shared the same pouch for some time.

Here one of the joeys might be older than the other one.

This is because sometimes the mother kangaroo ‘toilet trains’ her young ones to a certain extent.

But it would be best if you did not confuse this with how human babies are toilet trained. It has more to do with the cleaning of the pouch.

Smaller joeys are often taught to defecate when they feel their mothers’ tongues, making it easier for the mothers to keep their pouches clean.

Can it become dangerous for the kangaroos if they do not clean their pouches?

Yes, the health of the mother kangaroo and her joey depends on her keeping the pouch clean.

The primary reason why her pouch smell is because of the poop and pee inside the pouch.

In the case of other animals, their babies defecate outside, but in the case of kangaroos, they defecate even after birth inside the mother’s pouch.

Hence, it is essential to remove the dirt for the health of the mother and the baby.

When kangaroos are bred in captivity, is it necessary to teach them to clean their pouches?

According to the zookeeper, kangaroos born and bred in captivity naturally know they must keep their pouches clean.

Even before they become mothers, they keep their pouches clean and continue this habit when they give birth to babies.

There is no record of zookeepers trying to teach mother kangaroos to clean their pouches.

Likewise, there is no record of zookeepers cleaning the kangaroos’ pouches to protect the babies.

Mother kangaroos are pretty protective of their joeys and tend to keep their pouches clean for the safety of their babies.

Is a kangaroo pouch slimy?

Kangaroo pouches are sticky and slimy not because they are dirty, but because they need to support the joey living inside. The pouch is hairless, but as it tends to get dirty, there must be antimicrobial liquids to protect the joey from getting ill.

In the pouch, you can see slimy fluid, which is an antimicrobial fluid secreted by sweat glands to protect the joey.

In Summary

A kangaroo’s pouch will produce a foul odor because it’s an enclosed area that nurtures the young and the joeys tend to poop and pee which will eventually lead to the mum’s pouch producing a foul smell. As the joey matures, it’ll leave the mother’s pouch to play and will carry dirt from outside back into the pouch.

Further reading:

Scroll to Top