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Vote for the cutest baby animal

February 1, 2021 6:45PM Kids News

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The Great Australian Wildlife Collection books. For Kids News media_cameraThe Great Australian Wildlife Collection books. For Kids News

animals

Reading level: green

Australia has some amazing animals — and their babies are amazingly cute.

To celebrate the launch of The Great Australian Wildlife Collection, Kids News took a peek inside the Baby Animals book.

We want you to tell us which baby you think is the cutest — and learn some fascinating facts about Australian wildlife along the way.

Vote for your cutest baby animal below.

SEA LION

media_cameraThis Australian sea lion pup looks like he has a lot to say.

Female sea lions always return to the same breeding site where they were born, but males might mate with females from different colonies*.

During breeding season, male sea lions become aggressive* and territorial*, defending their group of females from other males.

At birth, pups are about 60-70cm and weigh about 6.5-8kg. Their coat starts out chocolate brown but is replaced by adult-like fawn coloured fur by the time they are two months old.

BRUSHTAIL POSSUM

AUSTRALIA-CONSERVATION-WILDLIFE media_cameraA five month old golden brushtail possum sits near its mother. Picture: AFP

The common brushtail possum is a shy animal, only interacting with other possums during breeding season.

Females are pregnant for just 16 to 18 days and usually only give birth to one joey, however twins have been recorded.

A newborn is just 1.5cm long and weighs only 2g. Apart from its forelimbs, it is quite undeveloped.

The joey uses its front paws to make its way to its mother’s pouch, where it will continue to develop, remaining there for around four to five months.

DINGO

Dingo Pup media_cameraDingo pups are taught how to hunt and survive by their pack.

Dingoes mate for life. Females can give birth to a litter of up to eight pups once a year.

Parents will travel long distances to find food for their young, and when the pups are older, they are introduced to the pack of up to 12 dingoes, which protect them and teach them

through play how to hunt and survive.

ECHIDNA

Echidne a nez court (Tachyglossus aculeatus) media_cameraBaby echidnas are called puggles and hatch from eggs after about 10 days. They then stay in their mother’s pouch for six to eight weeks. Picture: Getty Images

Echidnas are monotremes — egg-laying mammals — and produce just one egg a year.

An echidna baby, known as a puggle, hatches both hairless and blind after about 10 days, cracking through the shell with its “egg tooth”.

It stays in its mother’s pouch for six to eight weeks, suckling* on special glands called milk patches as the females don’t have teats.

When the puggle is too prickly to carry, the mother will dig a burrow for it before it’s weaned* at about seven months of age.

HUMPBACK WHALE

Greater Curtin Stage 1 - Reprice media_cameraHumpback whale calves are fed milk by their mother for about a year.

Humpback whale calves are born in shallow waters tail first so they don’t drown.

The newborn instinctively* swims to the surface within 10 seconds for its first breath, aided by its mother using her flippers.

Calves can grow half a metre each month while they are fed by their mother for almost a year.

This growth is aided by the high fat content of their mother’s milk, which they drink

about 600 litres of a day. The milk is said to be extremely thick and look a bit like toothpaste, which helps stop it from breaking apart in water if any escapes while the calf feeds.

WOMBAT

GERMANY-ANIMAL-WOMBAT media_cameraFemale wombats have a pouch that is positioned backwards to protect the baby when it walks and digs. Picture: Getty Images

Female wombats give birth to one baby after about 22 days.

The joey then crawls into its mother’s pouch to continue to grow. But unlike most marsupials*, the pouch is positioned backwards.

This is to ensure the joey stays out of harm’s way when its mother is walking (or even at times sprinting) as their bodies are very low to the ground, or when burrowing so that dirt doesn’t collect in the pouch.

The joey remains in the pouch for another five to six months so important organs such as the brain, heart, kidney and lungs can develop.

They stay with their mother for about another 18 months after leaving the pouch.

KOALA

Koalas In Forest media_cameraJoeys spend six months on their mother’s back after emerging from the pouch.

Baby koalas are called joeys and are born after 35 days.

The 2cm long newborn is able to make its way to the pouch without help, using its already well-developed senses of smell and touch and strong forelimbs and claws.

It stays attached to its mother’s teat for 13 weeks and from 22 weeks starts to feed on

a substance called “pap”, which the mother produces in addition to milk.

Pap, a special form of droppings, is an important part of the joey’s diet because it helps them change from its mother’s milk to eucalyptus leaves.

At six months they emerge from the pouch and spend the next six months on their mother’s back.

EMU

Emu and chicks media_cameraMale emus do all the child care after the female lays her eggs.

The male emu is the main caregiver when it comes to emu chicks.

Females lay between six and 11 eggs — which are about 13.5cm long and 9cm wide — before wandering off, showing no more interest in her chicks.

The male then incubates* the eggs without leaving the nest to drink or eat, surviving only on stored fat during this eight-week period.

Emu chicks are cream-coloured with dark brown stripes to help them camouflage*. They live with their father for up to 18 months while they learn how to find food and defend themselves from predators.

FLATBACK TURTLE

Flatback Turtle Hatchling media_cameraA female flatback turtle lays about 50 eggs at a time, with the babies emerging 40 to 60 days later.

Flatback turtles normally don’t mate until they’re aged about 30.

Their main nesting grounds are on Crab Island, an uninhabited* island off Cape York in Queensland.

The female lays about 50 eggs on the beach, burying them in the sand before returning to the water.

Like most turtles, temperature plays a role in determining the gender of the young; hotter temperatures produce females, while cooler temperatures favour males.

The turtles grow in the eggs for between 40 and 60 days before they emerge and make their way into the water themselves — however many of them are attacked by predators on land before they get there.

KANGAROO

Baby Kangaroo joey Hanging from the pouch of it's mother media_cameraA dusty scene, a kangaroo joey hangs from the pouch of the mother

Young kangaroos, known as joeys, are born at a very immature* stage when they’re only about 2cm long and weigh less than 1g.

Blind and hairless, they’re guided to their mother’s pouch where they spend about another eight months, drinking from one of her four teats.

The joey continues to suckle for three to four months after it has left the pouch.

Interestingly, a mother can nurse two joeys of different ages at once. She cleverly produces milk in one teat for her new joey in the pouch and another type of milk for the older joey who drinks from another teat.

These cuties feature in the Baby Animals book which is part of The Great Australian Wildlife Collection. News Corp Australia has partnered with Discovery Channel and Animal Planet to create the 15-book collection.

To celebrate the launch of the collection, anyone with an animal surname will be able to receive free entry at some of our best zoos and wildlife sanctuaries on Sunday, February 7, 2021. All you have to do is show identification like a driver’s licence with your animal surname. Entry is at the discretion of the venue and is only redeemable on Sunday, February 7, 2021 at Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park (NSW), Healesville Sanctuary (Vic), Paradise Country (Qld) Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary (Tas), Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park (SA) and Territory Wildlife Park (NT).  

See wildlifebooks.com.au for more information.

To celebrate the launch of the collection, anyone with an animal surname will be able to receive free entry at some of our best zoos and wildlife sanctuaries on Sunday, February 7, 2021. Identification showing your animal surname is required. Entry is at the discretion of the venue and is only redeemable on Sunday, February 7, 2021 at Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park (NSW), Healesville Sanctuary (Vic), Paradise Country (Qld), Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary (Tas), Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park (SA) and Territory Wildlife Park (NT).

People with an animal surname can enjoy free entry to some of Australia's zoos and wildlife parks to celebrate the launch of The Great Australian Wildlife Collection. media_cameraAnimal surname day celebrates the launch of The Great Australian Wildlife Collection.

GLOSSARY

  • colonies: groups living together
  • aggressive: ready to attack or confront
  • territorial: dislikes others entering their area
  • suckling: feeding from the mother
  • weaned: no longer feeding from the mother
  • instinctively: automatically, without thinking
  • marsupials: mammals that have a pouch
  • incubates: sits on eggs and keeps them warm until they are ready to hatch
  • camouflage: blend in with the surrounds
  • uninhabited: where no one lives
  • immature: not developed

EXTRA READING

Seahorse dad gives birth

Big welcome for endangered baby animals

Meet Tallow, Australia’s cutest koala joey

QUICK QUIZ

  1. Which animal mother returns to the breeding site where she was born?
  2. Which animal is a monotreme and what does this mean?
  3. How many litres of its mother’s milk does a baby humpback whale drink in a day?
  4. What does a baby koala eat to help it go from its mother’s milk to eucalyptus leaves?
  5. What island is the main nesting ground of flatback turtles?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Baby Animal Names
Create a chart with three columns like the one below. Using the information from the Kids News article, fill out the information chart, stating the baby name for each animal and one other important fact.

Baby animal chart for Kids News media_cameraCreate a chart like this one.

Answers: Pups, Joeys, Pups, Puggles, Calves, Joeys, Joeys, Chicks, Joeys

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science

2. Extension
Out of all these amazing animals, choose the one you find the most interesting. Write a paragraph with a slogan trying to persuade other people to vote for that animal as the cutest by outlining all your reasons.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and creative thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
Up-level it
Scan through the article and see if you can locate three words that you consider to be basic, or low level. These are words we use all the time and that can be replaced by more sophisticated words. Words like “good” and “said” are examples of overused words.

Once you have found them, see if you can up-level them. Think of synonyms you could use instead of these basic words, but make sure they still fit into the context of the article.

Re-read the article with your new words. Did it make it better? Why/why not?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What was the most interesting fact you learnt from this story?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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