facts and care advice


The key requirements for urgent short term care of joeys are WARMTH, QUIET and FLUIDS

A recently orphaned joey will be in shock and unable to maintain its own temperature.  Place the joey in a pillowslip and then up your jumper next to your skin.  This provides it with the best warmth that will warm the joey right through rather than a hot water bottle which can scald the joey or only warm the outside.  An older well furred orphaned joey must be given a pouch or something warm to snuggle in.  A pillowslip is a good internal pouch and then slip this into a warm blanket or polar fleece bag.  DO NOT ATTEMPT TO KEEP AN UNFURRED JOEY OR JUST FURRING JOEY FOR LONGER THAN GETTING IT TO EXPERIENCED CARE. 

If you are remote and it is not possible to get the joey to and experienced carer or Rescue group  please keep in contact with them for advice.   Keep the joey in a quiet place in the house and away from children, other animals  and the TV.  The joey must be allowed to sleep uninterrupted between feeds as the stress from frequent handling or noise can setoff serious illness or death.


Joeys need to be toileted every three to four hours.Cleanliness is essential.  Sterilize any equipment used to feed the joey, and change the pouch immediately it becomes soiled by faeces or formula.

It is essential that anyone who has not cared for a joey successfully must ring for advice as soon as possible, preferably within an hour of getting the joey into care.  Weigh the joey so the experienced carer you call has an idea of age and weight and is able to give the correct advice.

If you find an injured kangaroo (hit by car, fence hanger, or simply unable to get up etc) ring Fauna Rescue on 8289 0896.


  • You will be advised that a shooter is nearby and can attend, or to contact Police.
  • Do not approach the Kangaroo but let us know possible injury and if you can see a joey in pouch or alongside Mum (if female).
  • If there is a joey in the pouch do not attempt to remove it from a mother who is still alive.
  • If mum has died you can check in the pouch and remove the joey. However there are a few things to check first and to be aware of:


(1) If a joey is still pink it may be attached to Mums nipple. Do not attempt to remove but call Fauna Rescue and an experienced carer will come to help.

(2) If the joey is not attached you can put your hands deep into the pouch and make the space smaller until you are able to get hold of the joey around the hips and body and remove carefully. Do not pull the tail or legs which is very tempting but will do terrible damage to the joey.

(3) Hold the joey close to your body, under your jumper, to keep warm. Do not hand it around to various people to hold or take photos of, but ring Fauna Rescue and you will be put in touch with a Kangaroo Coordinator who will advise where the closest carer is located or will organise to meet you, and you will need to get the joey to them.

(4) Do not be tempted to keep the joey, they are quite different to cats and dogs, require special formula and treatment, and can die very quickly if stressed.


Things to consider:

  • Kangaroo carers tend to be people who do not work full or part time away from home.
  • Joeys require 24hr care (as you would give an infant) and need to be with you at all times whilst small.
  • Raising a joey is long term, and quite expensive for  around 10 – 12 months. (a joey of around 2 kilos  is approximately 7 months old)
  • Depending on the species, joeys are weaned at 14 – 18 months old.
  • Gradually as they start to emerge from the pouch they require supervised time outside several times a day, which over months becomes less supervised as they gain confidence and are less reliant on you.
  • Joeys need a quiet garden large enough to get up to full speed as they grow.  Or preferably carers with property where the carer has room to have a compound and can keep kangaroos for their lifetime (approx 14 -20 years)
  • Preferably no dogs (or dogs can be kept separately) loud machinery or noisy neighbours that could frighten the animals.
  • Joeys must be kept away from cats and their litter or toilet area as cat faeces can carry a protozoan called toxoplasmosis (even if the cat shows no symptoms) which is fatal in joeys.
  • Kangaroos are mob animals and crave others of their kind which  reduces the stress on the animals and gives them others to bond to.
  • Kangaroos are not released in South Australia and are best cared for by people with properly constructed compounds in which to house them for their lifetime.
  • If you keep a kangaroo you must get a permit from Dept Environment and Water.  Although a joey is very cute, it will rapidly become a very large animal with specialised needs (including feed requirements, habitat and the need to be with others of its species).  When larger they do not make good pets.  It is essential to think long and hard about whether you have the facilities to care for this animal for its lifetime (up to 20 years) or whether it is the interests of the animal that it be handed to someone who is able to do so.
Kangaroos are most active at dawn & dusk.

They rest during the day in the shade of woodland moving on to the grasslands to feed.

Kangaroos eat a variety of plants but mainly grasses.

Kangaroos are unique, being the only large animals that use hopping for locomotion.

Red kangaroos & Euro’s breed continously under good conditions but Grey Kangaroos are usually seasonal breeders.

Kangaroos have a long gestation period compared to other marsupials ranging from 31-36 days.

With Euro’s & Red Kangaroos the joey is continually attached to the teat until 120-130 days old.

Mother kangaroo can change the composition of her milk, one strength for the newborn joey and another for the joey that has emerged from the pouch.

The young first emerge from the pouch usually by falling out. This usually occurs around 185 days for Red Kangaroos & 298 days for Grey Kangaroos.

Red Kangaroos are also known as Marloo or Blue Flyers (females).

Grey Kangaroos are also known as Mallee Kangaroo, Sooty Kangaroo or Scrubbers.

A male Red Kangaroo can weigh up to 90kgs or a female 35kgs.

A male Grey Kangaroo can weigh up to 70kgs or a female 35kgs.

A male Euro can weigh 58kgs or a female 25kgs.


*These are only very basic initial instructions. Please contact your nearest Wildlife Group and speak to an experienced Kangaroo carer for more information or to organise to place the joey into care.

Injured Wildlife Hotlines

Wildlife Rescue:
(08) 8289 0896
Koala Rescue:
1300 KOALAS (562 527)
Bat Rescue:
(08) 8486 1139


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The Complete Guide to the Care of Macropods


The Complete Guide to the Care of Macropods by Lynda Staker is a comprehensive guide to hand rearing, rehabilitation and captive management of kangaroo species. 

Email: macropodology@optusnet.com.au