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Join Zoobooks in the “Land Down Under” with Zoobooks Koalas and Other Australian Mammals! Because it is an island continent far away from any other continents, the wildlife that developed in Australia is some of the most unique and interesting on the planet. Most famously, Australia is home to very unusual types of animals known as marsupials and montremes. Even if you are unsure what the word marsupial means, chances are you have heard of at least two world famous marsupial animals: koalas and kangaroos.
What makes marsupials different from most other mammals on earth is how they are reared. Koalas and other marsupials all have pouches on their bellies where they nurse and transport their young. In the earliest stages, these babies have not finished growing enough to live outside of their mother’s pouch. Many are only the size and weight of a nickel! In order to continue growing bigger, the young marsupial must stay inside its mother’s pouch for several months until it is strong enough walk and eat on its own. As native Australian marsupials, koalas and kangaroos also have very specialized ways of moving, eating, and behaving.
Monotremes are even more different. Found only in Australia, there are only two kinds of creatures that belong to this odd group of mammals: the duck-billed platypus and the echidna, or spiny anteater. Monotremes are the only mammals on Earth that give birth by laying small rubbery eggs similar to reptile eggs. In fact, it seems that platypus and echidnas closely resemble the ancient egg-laying reptiles from which all mammals living today descended. Because they are so different from many other animals, monotremes have very different behaviors and abilities.