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A guide to raising Macropods

To raise and release any native species requires you to have a license from D.E.S. If you are interested in becoming a carer, please read through this site, then contact this group or another to find out about joining.

This information is a guide only. Practices change and are updated constantly.

Raising macropods is a long term commitment.  




Consider these questions before fostering a macropod.




Can you make the commitment?


Raising a joey can take up to eighteen months, in which time you are tied to the needs of the animal.  It is like having another child in the house, with feeding, sleeping routines, and all the washing.  Because macropods stress more easily than other native animals, their needs can curtail certain aspects of your life – like holidays!


Do you have the facilities?


Joeys need a quiet room, away from daily household activities.  Joeys need many and various sized pouches, with a stand to hang them on.  This enables them to roll in and out of the pouch, like they would with their own mother.  Formula must be made up on a daily basis. 


Your outside yard should be fenced to a suitable height to keep the joey in and the local foxes, dogs and cats out. You can make your joey a ‘run’ for exercising and eventually living in. Exercising increases their overall strength and heart muscles.  It is preferable that all native animals raised in care have very little or no contact with domestic pets – making your joey friendly with your dog sets them for disaster with the neighbour’s animal. 


Are you able to care for a Joey 7 days a week, 24 hours a day? 


Feeds for macropods are age dependant, but can be between 3 and 4 hourly, day and night.  If you are a working carer, are you able to take the joey to work for feeding?  How will your boss feel about that?   Take time to consider what you will do when the animal is too big to take out with you.   Macropods are mob animals, so it is best not to raise just one, but two or three.  Do you have the facilities and time to do that? 


Are you aware of the costs involved?


Macropods need:


·         Milk formula


·         Teats


·         Grasses and hay, grains and cereals


·         Pouches and stands


·         Baskets when they are small


·         Heat mats


We cannot save every animal that comes in – can you cope with that?   


Many native animals come into care through trauma – car accidents, dog attacks are but two.  It goes without saying that not every joey that comes in will survive – this is a harsh reality.  Macropods are very stressy animals, so you need to be calm.  Sometimes it is necessary for the good of the animal to pass it on to another carer, particularly if it is beyond your capabilities.  Our aim as carers is to return these animals back into the wild.  Do not make your joey into a pet, as your neighbours may not want a 2 metre tall Eastern Grey male roo sitting on their back porch!  




REMEMBER: safety first


If you come across live, injured macropods, call the RSPCA on 1300 animal.  They also have a Wildlife Hospital number, which is 3426 9910. 


If you come across a macropod that is deceased on the side of the road, check to see if it is a male (buck) or female (doe).  There is a distinct possibility that if it is a doe, there may be a joey in the pouch.  If the joey is attached to the mother by the teat, DO NOT pull the joey from the teat – this is a certain death sentence!!


If the joey is attached to the teat, place a safety pin in the teat above the joey’s mouth, and then, ensuring that the mother has died, cut the teat with a sharp knife or scissors.  Place the joey in a bag, towel or pillowcase, and pin the teat to the side of the bag to prevent it from being swallowed by the joey.  Keep the baby warm and quiet until it can be passed to an experienced carer.  Temperature is critical:


Unfurred 32 °C, slightly furred 30 °C, furred 28°C


Depending upon the species and the weight of the joey please be aware that not all joeys are viable. Recommended minimum weights are:


Eastern Greys:          400 – 500 gm


Wallabies                  over 200 gm 


Pademelons               over 100 gm 


It is a difficult decision to euthanize what appears to be a healthy joey; however defects in adults, which will prevent later release, are believed by some, to be caused by raising too early. SEEK Advice.




Many new (and experienced!) carers are very enthusiastic over caring for native animals.  The prime concern in becoming a wildlife carer is the need of the animal, not the need of the carer.  You may find that caring for some species, rather EVERY species, is more suited to both your needs and the needs of the animals. It is better to raise one joey well, rather than stress out over trying to raise six at a time.  Experienced carers often have several animals in care at one time, but it is necessary to have the time and equipment necessary to do this.  Macropods are mob animals and do better with a friend.


The term ‘Macropod” means ‘big foot’ – not in the terms of the mythical or otherwise creature but in the size of the foot of our native Kangaroos and Wallabies.  ‘Macro’ means big, whilst ‘pod’ means foot – hence Macropod. 




There are numerous species of macropods, however, we have only touched on those species that come into care most often in the Queensland South-east region.  Please consult a published macropod guide if yours does not fit into these categories.  You can also go to the help page on the website on to look up a Register Head for macropods for further help. (“Macropology” by Cheryl Dooley has an excellent section on ID) 




Eastern Grey Kangaroos are:


·         usually a uniform shade of grey, often with a tinge of cream or brown


·         end of their tail is always black


·         adults prefer their habitat to be forests and woodlands, but they do graze in open paddocks at dusk, or if there is no-one around.   With overcast days, most species of macropods will come out to graze in open paddocks.  Their natural food source is fibrous grasses, but they also eat barks and leaves and dirt. 


·         second largest species of macropods, and an adult can reach up to 2 metres in height


·         males can weigh up to 70 kg, with females being around half that weight.


·         These are the hardest joey’s to raise due to being emotionally delicate – they have been known to expire for no apparent reason.  A stressful situation that happens today can manifest itself as a fatal incident in six weeks’ time


Eastern Grey Kangaroos are the most adorable creatures to raise.  They have definite personality traits, and enjoy personal contact with their carer.  They do not always respond well to others.   They are not pets and should not be treated as such.  You cannot leave them to be baby sat while you go away.  The time frame for raising an Eastern Grey Joey can be around 18 months – so plan holidays for before or after you take one on.  Having a second one eases stress factors for them.  




Red-necked wallabies:


·         come into care most often


·         much less liable to stress, but can still suffer from it


·         a quiet environment is still needed for raising them successfully. 


·         reddish brown to grey in colour, with a beautiful red ruff around the back of their neck 


·         pale cream jaw line, with a matching cream underbelly. 


·         natural habitat is scrubland and forest, and they are not often seen in open paddocks, but they can be found on the side of the road in times of drought eating the lush grass


Red-necked Wallabies grow to less than a metre in height.  Males are heavier as adults than the females.  As a general rule, males can weigh up to 23 kg, whilst the females can grow up to 16 kg. 


These wallabies are fairly independent but still bond well to their carer.  Having a second one eases stress factors for them.  




Swamp Wallabies are:


·         very similar to a Red-necked Wallaby when little, but are genetically very different to all other wallabies They are in fact the only TRUE wallaby; the others are in the kangaroo family.


·         colouring is layered – a dark undercoat with a light overcoat


·         Colours range from almost black to rufus (orange-red). 


·         inclined by nature to be  solitary animals but will feed in mobs in the evening or at night


·         more rambunctious than Red-necked Wallabies, but can also stress to a greater degree. 


·         preferred habitat is thick undergrowth, and forest woodland.   They will eat fungi and dirt, brackens, and fibrous grasses and barks. 


Swamp Wallabies are slightly smaller than Red-necked Wallabies – bucks can grow to around 18 kg and does grow to around 12 kgs. 




Pademelons are:


·         smallest macropods that normally come into care 


·         both species are a greyish brown, with red on the shoulders and neck


·         Red-legged Pademelons have red down the hips and back legs 


·         often in pairs in the wild, do better raised in pairs in captivity


·         naturally shy 


·          mature very quickly so are not in care for an extended period of time 


·         preferred habitat is dense rainforest (sub-tropical).  They eat leaf litter, forest fruits, grasses and shrubs. 


Red-necked Pademelons and Red-legged Pademelons grow to around the same size – for both males and females 4 to 7 kgs, so they are quite small. 




These wallabies can:


·         Occur in the more underpopulated areas around Ipswich


·         Inhabit undulating country with open forest and a grassy understory.


·         Live in groups


·         distinctive white strip down the side of the face, with a long thin tail (hence other common name of whiptail wallaby). Other species also have white stripes on the face (particularly swampys) but pretty faces are very distinctive.


 Male Prettyface wallabies  grow to approx. 16 kg and females approx.11 kg.




This is NOT an exact science, and the table below is a collection of information from a variety of sources.


It is the most common question that is asked, so it is nice to have some idea


A general guideline for age is:



  1. Furless: eyes closed, ears folded. Joey permanently in pouch. 30 – 32° C.


 6 feeds a day. 10% body weight. Mustard poo.



  1. Fine fur: 5 - 6 months, head out of pouch, interested in surrounds. May leave pouch for a few mins at a time but never unattended. Shows interest in solid foods. Pouch in dappled sunlight for Vit D for short times. Start to form pelleted poo. 5 feeds a day.


Joey may be enticed to wee out of bag on the grass (saves tissues!)



  1. Thick fur:   8 – 10 months, 1 -2 hours out of pouch. In and out on own (?) Still under supervision. Access to a variety of grass and other root vegies and grains or pellets. Dark poo pellets. 4 feeds a day.

  2. Becoming independent:    12 -14 months. Out of pouch most of the day, in pouch at night. 3 feeds a day

  3. Weaning: in preparation for release. 2 feeds a day, down to 1 and then none. Outside permanently, no pouch. Release weights:


Eastern grey 9kg


Red neck 5 kg


Swampy 5 kg






Under no circumstances feed your macropod dairy products or substitutes i.e. cows milk or soy products. 


There are a number of products available, specifically for marsupials.  It is up to the individual carer to decide to choose the product that best suits them and the particular animal they are raising.   The three major products are Biolac, Wombaroo and Divetalact.  All are usually available from veterinary clinics, care organisations, produce stores or the manufacturer.  Onarr does have Divetalact  and Wombaroo for sale to carers.


Generally, Divet is recommended for early joey stages (up to fine fur), with Biolac or Wombaroo preferred after this time. 


Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the product you have purchased. 


Be careful that you know the true weight and species of the macropod you are feeding, to ensure that they are getting the correct formula.  Quantities and formula instructions change as the macropods grow.  If in doubt, ring an experienced carer for advice. 




Equipment necessary for raising a macropod:



  • A basket or a stand – which is always left in one spot so that the joey always knows where it is (NOT a bag hanging from a chair or door knob – these are accidents waiting to happen – joey’s can break legs tumbling from a hanging pouch.  They must have access to and from the pouch as they would in the wild.)

  • Anita recommends a back pack and a stand with foam on the bottom (see many photos)

  • Pouches – various sizes and plenty of – these little creatures are not house trained

  • Tissues or toilet paper – ample supply!!

  • Heating – a heat pad, hot water bottle or feather pouch or a combination of all. 

  • A Thermometer – to check the temperature of the bag to regulate the heat

  • Bottle and teats for feeding – for one macropod it is sensible to have at least 5 of each.

  • Scales for weighing your joey and your milk powder

  • Play pen or suitable secure outdoor area







Cedric and Lucy - A. Thompson

Rosie - A. Thompson

Twiggy - A. Thompson

Tilly - A. Thompson

Cocoa - A. Thompson

Cocoa - A. Thompson

Patrick just into care- J. Chew

Patrick checking out the grass - J. Chew

Last visit with Jake - 

J. Chew

Jake having a bottle -

J. Chew

Abby - J. Chew


M. Arkell 

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