Marsupials | Marsupialia

Marsupials are mammals characterized by the pouch the mother has for raising and protecting her young, also known as joeys. Marsupials are most commonly associated with Austrailia, because that’s where the well-known Kangaroos and Koalas are found, but marsupials, specifically the opposum, are also found in North, Central, and South America. Some species of marsupials are herbivores, while others are insectivores or carnivores. Marsupials typically live alone, except in the mating season, and the females will raise the joeys alone. Most marsupial mothers, expect for the Kangaroo and Koala, give birth to multiple young at a time. Marsupials play an important role in their environment: they spread seeds, pollinates, eat pests and vermin, and can aid the creation of habitats for other creatures by helping to loosen up soil for burrowing animals.

What do marsupials eat?

A marsupials’ diet depends on its species, teeth, and habitat. Marsupials can be omnivores, herbivores, carnivores, or insectivores. For example, bandicoots, Australian possums, and American opossums are omnivores, while wombat, kangaroos, and koalas are herbivores. Marsupials typically eat bugs, smaller mammals, birds, fruit, seeds, and eucalyptus leaves.

Why do marsupials have pouches?

Marsupials have pouches that are essential for the well-being of their offspring. After birth marsupials climb into the pouch and then latch into their mother’s nipple. The offspring continues to develop for 6 months inside pouch after birth, and receives the nursing and care required to later survive on its own.

Where do marsupials live?

Marsupials live in Australia, as well as North, Central, and South America. They are not picky with their habitats. They typically live in forests, savannas, and shrublands. Some species of marsupials live in desert-like habitats while some live in burrows.

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Virginia Opossum

The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a marsupial, and the only marsupial found north of Mexico. In the United States the Virginia Opossum is referred to as possum. Virginia Opossums are a dull gray-brown with the exception of their faces which are white. They have hairless, prehensile tails used to grab branches and carry small objects. Other characteristics are hairless ears, a long, flat nose, and opposable, clawless thumbs on their rear limbs. As omnivorous, the species eats a wide range of plants and animals like fruits, grains, insects, birds, and other small animals. When reacting to threats, the Virginia Opossum will feign death or “play possum”.

Virginia Opossums have a shoulder height of 8”-11” (20-28 cm), body length between 14”-19” (36-48 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 4-14 lb (2-6 kg). The tail of the Virginia Opossum is 10”-12” (25-30 cm) in length. Virginia Opossums have a typical lifespan of 2-4 years in the wild and up to 6 years captivity.

Dimensioned side view drawing of the Virginia Opossum with height and length
The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a marsupial, and the only marsupial found north of Mexico. In the United States the Virginia Opossum is referred to as possum. Virginia Opossums are a dull gray-brown with the exception of their faces which are white.

Virginia Opossums have a shoulder height of 8”-11” (20-28 cm), body length between 14”-19” (36-48 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 4-14 lb (2-6 kg). The tail of the Virginia Opossum is 10”-12” (25-30 cm) in length. Virginia Opossums have a typical lifespan of 2-4 years in the wild and up to 6 years captivity.

Dimensioned side view drawing of the Virginia Opossum with height and length
Virginia Opossum
Height:
8”-11” | 20-28 cm
Width:
Length:
14”-19” | 36-48 cm
Depth:
Weight:
4-14 lb | 2-6 kg
Area:
Tail Length
10”-12” | 25-30 cm
Scientific Name
Didelphis virginiana
Lifespan
2-4 years (wild); up to 6 years (captivity)

Drawings include:

Virginia Opossum side elevation (standing), front (standing)

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Long-Nosed Bandicoot

The Long-Nosed Bandicoot (Perameles nasuta) is a solitary and mainly nocturnal marsupial omnivore found in the regions of Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, and neighboring islands. The Bandicoot’s body can be small to large-sized, characterized as portly and coarse-haired.

It has sharp teeth, a narrow snout, and hind legs that extend longer than its front limbs. In search for plants and insects, the Long-Nosed Bandicoot will dig funnel-shaped holes, often finding themselves deemed as pests by farmers for digging in fields and pastures. Types of Bandicoots include the long-nosed, short-nosed, pig-footed, and rabbit-eared (also known as bilbies).

Long-Nosed Bandicoots have a shoulder height of 6”-8.5” (15-22 cm), body length between 12”-17” (31-43 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 1.6-3.3 lb (.7-1.5 kg). The tail of the Long-Nosed Bandicoot is 5”-6” (13-15 cm) in length. Long-Nosed Bandicoots have a typical lifespan of 2-4 years in the wild and up to 5-6 years in captivity.

Collection of scaled drawings of Long-nosed Bandicoot in various poses
The Long-Nosed Bandicoot (Perameles nasuta) is a solitary and mainly nocturnal marsupial omnivore found in the regions of Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, and neighboring islands. The Bandicoot’s body can be small to large-sized, characterized as portly and coarse-haired.

Long-Nosed Bandicoots have a shoulder height of 6”-8.5” (15-22 cm), body length between 12”-17” (31-43 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 1.6-3.3 lb (.7-1.5 kg). The tail of the Long-Nosed Bandicoot is 5”-6” (13-15 cm) in length. Long-Nosed Bandicoots have a typical lifespan of 2-4 years in the wild and up to 5-6 years in captivity.

Collection of scaled drawings of Long-nosed Bandicoot in various poses
Long-Nosed Bandicoot
Height:
6”-8.5” | 15-22 cm
Width:
Length:
12”-17” | 31-43 cm
Depth:
Weight:
1.6-3.3 lb | .7-1.5 kg
Area:
Tail Length
5”-6” | 13-15 cm
Scientific Name
Perameles nasuta
Lifespan
2-4 years (wild); up to 5-6 years (captivity)

Drawings include:

Long-Nosed Bandicoot side elevation (standing), front (standing)

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Common Wombat
Comparison illustration of the size of a Common Wombat to a typical person

The Wombat (Vombatus ursinus) is a stocky and seemingly tailless burrower often found in the hilly countryside (of Australia). The Common Wombat has coarse hair, and gritty nose pad while the hairy-nosed wombat has silky fur, pointed ears, and a hairy nose pad.

A physical characteristic special to this marsupial is its growing, rootless teeth adapted to be durable given their diet. Herbivorous and mainly nocturnal, the Wombat will burrow itself in cultivated fields and feed on grasses, shrubs, and inner barks of trees. At times, rabbits will take shelter in the burrows of these marsupials.

Common Wombats have a shoulder height of 24”-28” (61-71 cm), body length between 40”-45” (102-114 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 45-75 lb (20-34 kg). The tail of the Common Wombat is 1”-2.5” (2.5-6.4 cm) in length. Common Wombats have a typical lifespan of 5-12 years in the wild and up to 20-30 years when protected in captivity.

Series of dimensioned side elevation illustrations of the Common Wombat
The Wombat (Vombatus ursinus) is a stocky and seemingly tailless burrower often found in the hilly countryside (of Australia). The Common Wombat has coarse hair, and gritty nose pad while the hairy-nosed wombat has silky fur, pointed ears, and a hairy nose pad.

Common Wombats have a shoulder height of 24”-28” (61-71 cm), body length between 40”-45” (102-114 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 45-75 lb (20-34 kg). The tail of the Common Wombat is 1”-2.5” (2.5-6.4 cm) in length. Common Wombats have a typical lifespan of 5-12 years in the wild and up to 20-30 years when protected in captivity.

Series of dimensioned side elevation illustrations of the Common Wombat
Common Wombat
Height:
24”-28” | 61-71 cm
Width:
Length:
40”-45” | 102-114 cm
Depth:
Weight:
45-75 lb | 20-34 kg
Area:
Tail Length
1”-2.5” | 2.5-6.4 cm
Scientific Name
Vombatus ursinus
Lifespan
5-12 years (wild); up to 20-30 years (captivity)

Drawings include:

Common Wombat side elevation (standing), front (standing), side (lying down)

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Koala

The Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), also known as the Koala Bear, is a solitary marsupial who inhabits the eucalypt woodlands, with the extent of its home covering more than a dozen trees. The Koala has a stout gray body, cream chest, large round head, fluffy ears, and a leathery nose likened to the shape of a spoon.

Due to their strict and selective diet consisting entirely on the leaves of eucalyptus trees, the Koala is left nutrient deficient. The result is a sedentary life for this marsupial, filled with long hours of sleeping and sitting exposed amongst the trees.

Koalas have a shoulder height of 15”-23” (38-58 cm), body length between 24”-36” (61-91 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 9-20 lb (4-9 kg). The tail of the Koala is .4”-.75” (1-2 cm) in length. Koalas have a typical lifespan of 8-12 years in the wild and up to 16-20 years when raised in captivity.

Set of elevation drawings of the Koala climbing and sitting
The Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), also known as the Koala Bear, is a solitary marsupial who inhabits the eucalypt woodlands, with the extent of its home covering more than a dozen trees. The Koala has a stout gray body, cream chest, large round head, fluffy ears, and a leathery nose.

Koalas have a shoulder height of 15”-23” (38-58 cm), body length between 24”-36” (61-91 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 9-20 lb (4-9 kg). The tail of the Koala is .4”-.75” (1-2 cm) in length. Koalas have a typical lifespan of 8-12 years in the wild and up to 16-20 years when raised in captivity.

Set of elevation drawings of the Koala climbing and sitting
Koala
Height:
15”-23” | 38-58
Width:
Length:
24”-36” | 61-91 cm
Depth:
Weight:
9-20 lb | 4-9 kg
Area:
Tail Length
.4”-.75” | 1-2 cm
Scientific Name
Phascolarctos cinereus
Lifespan
8-12 years (wild); up to 16-20 years (captivity)

Drawings include:

Koala side elevation (sitting), front (standing), front (walking), side (walking), side (climbing)

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Red Kangaroo
Scale illustration of an average Red Kangaroo with dimensions for height and length compared to a human

The Red Kangaroo (Osphranter rufus), maintaining national symbol status and known for their hind-legged bouncing, is an Australian marsupial related to the eastern gray, western gray, and antilopine kangaroos. In addition to Australia, Kangaroos can be found in New Guinea, New Zealand, and on offshore islands. Nearly all kangaroos use their strong hind legs as the main source of mobility while their long tails maintain balance, even acting as a third leg at times.

Other physical characteristics of the Red Kangaroo include human-like and agile forelimbs, small heads, rounded ears, and protruding lips. When a young kangaroo, called a joey, is born, it crawls into the mother’s pouch where it maintains attachment for several weeks until becoming more active. Kangaroos can be irregular in their cycle of activity, travel in groups although seen as independent, and vigorously box as a form of defense against predators.

Red Kangaroos have a standing height of 4’10”-6’10” (147-208 cm), body length between 39”-63” (99-160 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 50-200 lb (23-91 kg). The tail of the Red Kangaroo is 35”-44” (89-112 cm) in length. Red Kangaroos have a typical lifespan of 8-16 years in the wild and up to 25-27 years when raised in captivity.

Measured pair of scaled drawings of Red Kangaroo in various standing poses
he Red Kangaroo (Osphranter rufus), maintaining national symbol status and known for their hind-legged bouncing, is an Australian marsupial related to the eastern gray, western gray, and antilopine kangaroos. Features include human-like agile forelimbs, small heads, round ears, and protruding lips.

Red Kangaroos have a standing height of 4’10”-6’10” (147-208 cm), body length between 39”-63” (99-160 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 50-200 lb (23-91 kg). The tail of the Red Kangaroo is 35”-44” (89-112 cm) in length. Red Kangaroos have a typical lifespan of 8-16 years in the wild and up to 25-27 years when raised in captivity.

Measured pair of scaled drawings of Red Kangaroo in various standing poses
Red Kangaroo
Height:
4’10”-6’10” | 147-208 cm
Width:
Length:
39”-63” | 99-160 cm
Depth:
Weight:
50-200 lb | 23-91 kg
Area:
Tail Length
35”-44” | 89-112 cm
Scientific Name
Osphranter rufus
Lifespan
8-16 years (wild); up to 25-27 years (captivity)

Drawings include:

Red Kangaroo side elevation (standing), front (standing), side (jumping), side (lying down)

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