Last week, I shared with you my process for painting a koala. A koala is a marsupial and today, I’m going to share 12 little-known facts about some other marsupials, who live not only in Australia but in the Americas, too.
1. Wombats live in burrows and may have a dozen that they occupy from time to time. When digging their burrows, wombats use one foot for a few minutes and then switch to digging with the other.
2. Marsupials don’t have different sets of teeth like many mammals, including humans, do. Instead throughout their lifetimes they only replace some of their teeth.
3. The smallest marsupial in the world is the long-tailed planigale. They are only 2 inches long and weigh less than 5 grams. They are nocturnal and live in Northern Australia.
4. Some smaller species of marsupials have their pouches on their backs. The reason is that they dig to build their homes or to forage, and having the pouch on their back keeps it clean.
5. Tasmanian devils have a bite force which is stronger than a dog’s and can open their jaws 150 degrees. They can run up to 8 miles an hour and swim through icy water. Young Tasmanian Devil pups can climb but, like grizzly bears, lose the ability once they get older.
6. In Australia and New Guinea, marsupials are the only types of mammals. In areas without placental mammals (where the baby grows in the womb and not a pouch), marsupials have a greater diversity. In areas like South America where the two live side by side, there is a lower diversity of marsupials.
7. The most endangered marsupial in Australia is the potoroo. They look like kangaroos and wallabies but are the size of a rabbit. They once used to be abundant but only one population remains in the wild.
8. A kangaroo is a large macropod (large feet), a wallaby is a small one, and a macropod of intermediate size is called a wallaroo.
9. The kangaroo is pictured on the Australian Coat of Arms and on the Australian $1 coin.
10. It is less exhausting for kangaroos and wallabies to hop at high speeds. When they hop at low speeds, it is very tiring for them.
11. Virginia opossums are the only marsupial in North America. There are other species of possums in South America and Australia who are much smaller and usually a golden brown color.
12. Opossums are resistant to many types of poisons, including those of rattlesnakes and water moccasins.
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