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Nutrition in Marsupials


Most didelphid marsupials can be fed dry or canned dog or cat food. Smaller species can be fed canned primate diet. Hard-boiled egg, green vegetables, carrot, sweet potato, apple, and banana can also be offered. Dasyurids (eg, marsupial “mice,” native cats, Tasmanian devil) and bandicoots can be fed canned or frozen feline diet. In addition, crickets, mealworms, and mouse pups can be given to smaller species; larger species can be given mice and shank or rib bones. Wombats and the larger macropod marsupials can be fed a combination of large herbivore pellets, rabbit pellets, or special kangaroo pellets. Rat kangaroos will eat a combination of mouse pellets and rabbit pellets.

Green vegetables, carrot, sweet potato, apple, and banana can be offered to all herbivorous and omnivorous marsupials. For herbivores, greens should be added in limited amounts; these marsupials should be fed a good-quality hay. To prevent lumpy jaw, the diet of marsupials should contain at least 200 mg vitamin E and 0.2 mg selenium/kg dry matter. Currently, captive koalas can be fed successfully only on leaves of certain species of eucalyptus. Special pellets for koalas are being tested and may be available in the future.

Last full review/revision July 2011 by Joeke Nijboer, PhD; Teresa L. Lightfoot, DVM, DABVP (Avian)

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