The biodiversity of animals on our planet is very wide and, in part, this is one of the reasons why we must protect it in order to preserve it. A good example of this variety of fauna that we can find are the marsupials, animals that constitute a specific class within mammals and that, unfortunately, many of them are in danger of extinction
What are marsupial animals
As we said, marsupials are a class of mammals . Therefore, like all mammals, they have in common that their reproductive process takes place inside the mother’s uterus and that, once they are born, they are suckled with mother’s milk, which is their only food until they have been developed enough to feed by other means.
The most common is that mammals, during their gestation period in the mother’s womb, feed through the placenta, which is responsible for supplying the fetus with food from the mother’s own blood. These mammals are called placental mammals, and they are the most common that can be found.
However, there is another class of mammals that does not complete development within the mother’s uterus, and these would be marsupial mammals . In this case, the young of the marsupials are born before they have completed their development. However, so that they can complete it and survive, once they leave the uterus, they move to the so-called marsupium, which is nothing more than a bag that mothers have located in the front area of their body and where they have the mammary glands. . In this way, the young of the marsupials complete their development within the pouch or pouch, since they have access to food through breast milk without having to separate from the mother, despite having already been born and not being attached to her by the umbilical cord, as happens throughout the development of placental mammals .
Marsupial animals are more abundant than it may seem at first. In fact, up to 270 different species of marsupials are known , of which 70 would be located on the American continent and the remaining 200 on Australian territory, which represents the region of the planet where the largest number of marsupials can be found by far.
The two best known examples of marsupials are kangaroos and koalas , animals native to Australia and which have even become symbols of this country. However, although these two examples are the best known, partly due to their size, we can also find a large number of smaller marsupials that are completely unknown to most people. Thus, these are some examples of marsupial animals that are less well known:
Also called uombats and scientific name Vombatidae. They are small marsupials that have an appearance similar to that of a small bear and with especially short legs. They live on the islands of Australia and Tasmania, and can weigh up to 35 kilos.
It is a marsupial, scientifically named Sminthopsis , which looks like a field mouse with an elongated tail. Despite its name, it does not have any real kinship with mice, but is so named simply because of their similarity in appearance.
It is another marsupial that lives in very specific regions of Australia. The Myrmecobius fasciatus is characterized by having a striped back, which makes it resemble zebras in its fur. However, these stripes are located only on the back, counting on the body covered by a brownish or ocher fur, except for the face, where it tends to also present stripes.
Known by the scientific name of Pteromyini, up to 45 different species of this type of marsupial are grouped under this name, which resembles conventional squirrels in appearance. They have the characteristic of gliding when they jump from one tree to another, thanks to hair-covered membranes that connect their front legs with their hind legs.
It is an animal that resembles kangaroos in its appearance but, in this case, it is a smaller species, scientifically called Petrogale, and which are characterized by living in steep areas with difficult access.
It is a mole, scientifically called Notoryctes typhlops , whose body is covered with white fur that lives underground in a large part of Australia, with the largest populations concentrated in the central area of the country.
How we can protect marsupial animals
One of the problems that marsupials suffer is that, as they are native species of very specific areas, their populations are especially affected by the destruction of their habitats . Marsupials are species especially sensitive to any change in their ecosystem, since, being native to very specific areas, they are highly specialized, both in their diet and in their reproductive cycles, which do not adapt well to changes.
The first effective way to help marsupial species is by protecting the areas in which they inhabit, through the creation of protected areas that constitute sanctuaries of biodiversity. Learn in this other GreenEcology article The importance of nature reserves and protected areas .
Likewise, another problem they face is the hunting and trade of these species, which are sold as pets on the black market for exotic animals. In this way, the second measure necessary to guarantee the protection of marsupials is through the implementation of laws that prohibit their hunting and trade, as well as allocating the necessary resources to combat the black market that arises at their expense.