Our Latest News

East Coast Whale Trail opened

30/09/2016

Whales and visitors to the East Coast will get closer together with a series of new whale viewing sites created between larapuna/Bay of Fires and the Tasman Peninsula.More

Upgraded helipads improve safety for the Overland Track

29/09/2016

The Tasmanian Air Rescue Trust has provided funding to enable the upgrading of helipads on the Overland Track, improving the ability of rescue teams to reach walkers and staff in case of emergency.More

Experience national parks through art

23/09/2016

Arts in Parks is a project that celebrates the two decade long partnership between the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service and Arts Tasmania to deliver the wilderness residency program for artists.More

Superfamily Macropodoidea (Macropods)

There are five species of macropod (kangaroos, wallabies, bettongs and potoroos) in Tasmania:

The term macropod is derived from the Greek, which means 'large footed'. Members of this group -- the kangaroos and wallabies -- are characterised by their large hind legs and usually move around by hopping. Over 50 species of macropod occur in Australia, and its biogeographic relative, New Guinea.

All macropods have a remarkable reproductive cycle. Being marsupials, they give birth after a very short gestation period to young which have developed little past the embryo stage. The young continue to grow within a pouch. But in the case of many macropods, reproduction is characterised by the ability to arrest the development of embryos and, in some arid-dwelling species, even forgo the oestrus cycle.

All (except the musky rat kangaroo of far northern Queensland) give birth to a single young which is reared in a pouch.

In many species, including all five Tasmanian species, the female will mate again very soon after giving birth. In the case of the bettong, mating can occur literally hours after birth. If a young is already established in the pouch, the new embryo stops developing when it is little more than a ball of cells (the blastocyst stage).This process is known as embyonic diapause, or delayed inplantation. The suckling of the young already in the pouch initiates a hormonal response which triggers the arrested development of the embryo. The new embryo does not start to develop until either the young already present in the pouch is almost ready to leave the pouch or dies.

Wallaby pouch young

All macropods have a forward-opening pouch with four teats. When the new young is born it makes its way into the pouch and attaches itself to a different teat, usually the one diagonally opposite the one previously suckled. Again, soon after the birth the mother will mate. As this cycle continues, it is possible for a female to be suckling a pouch young, a larger young outside the pouch, and be carrying an undeveloped embryo.

This cycle is aided by a remarkable ability to produce two quite different types of milk at once. Through one nipple will come milk suited to the growing pouch young and through another will come milk specifically for the larger young outside the pouch! Each will contain differing compositions of lipids, carbohydrates and proteins.