How to Create Substitute Pouches for Marsupial Rescue

When you're caring for marsupials as part of an authorised or emergency rescue activity, recreating the pouch for joeys (or baby marsupial) is extremely important for ensuing that the joey remains warm and secure. This article suggests some ways for recreating the pouch in your home or other human rescue environment.

This article relates principally to Australian marsupials; making pouches for placental mammals is dependent on their specific needs because clearly most don't need a pouch.


  1. 1
    Choose material that is soft and easy to wash. Blankets make ideal material for this purpose and the older they are, the softer they're likely to be. If they're threadbare, simply cut off any holes or scraggly bits.
    • Other good fabric includes polar fleece the inner side of windcheaters, sheets and jumpers.
    • A pillowcase lined with something soft and warm such as a jumper is ideal.
    • Consider sewing up the bottom of a jumper if using one. This allows the joey to pop her head out of the head hole, as she'd do from a pouch.
  2. 2
    Create a pouch for a joey. Select a pouch size that will allow the joey to move around a little but still feel snug inside. To recreate the sense of suspension that a joey would feel in her own mother's pouch, place the pouch inside a larger bag or breathable sack and suspend it from something while still keeping it close to the ground to allow for ease of exit and entry by the joey. However, do not have the bag touch the ground (you may need to make an adjustment once the joey's weight is taken into account).
    • When the joey is not yet actively leaving the pouch, it can be suspended higher but be sure to monitor growing changes and the desire to leave the pouch.
  3. 3
    Create a pouch for a wombat. Make a pouch from suitable material. Line with a small blanket piece (or small blanket), then place the whole pouch inside a wooden box. The box should have a lid, especially as the wombat gets older.
    • You could place an electric pet blanket under the wooden box for extra warmth but be careful not to overheat the wombat. Wombat joeys have better temperature control than kangaroo joeys. Do not use a human electric blanket, as these are completely unsuitable and risk burning the animal or starting a fire if urinated on or chewed. Talk to your vet about options.
  4. 4
    Create a pouch for a possum. Use a sock or a small woollen hat. Once the possum becomes active and tries to emerge from the pouch, you can keep her in the pouch by pinning the top together with a safety pin. That way she won't get lost or cold when you're not about to supervise.
    • Use Ugg boots for little possums.
    • Once the possum grows older and can come and go from the pouch with greater ease, keep the sock or hat opening open using wire. The pouch should be kept inside a cat cage or similar size cage now though, to prevent her from wandering too far away.
    • Hanging baskets can work well for possums. Simply arrange them so as to create a closed nest.


  • Although the term "joey" is commonly associated with kangaroo babies, it is the term applied to all baby marsupials.
  • If the marsupial is so young that it doesn't have fur yet, rub the baby with baby oil to help prevent friction in the makeshift pouch. This helps to reduce fluid loss and maintains adequate humidity.
  • Placing a joey pouch at the back on top of a fridge or near a water heater can provide warm places but only provided all precautions have been taken to prevent falling or scalding.
  • All bedding must be removable and either disposed of or washed to remove the inevitable messes.
  • Wearing the joey under your own jumper as you move about during the day can create a cosy and warm environment.


  • Never use anything that prevents breathing, such as plastic bags.
  • Keep your pets away from rehabilitating wildlife. There is too much risk of aggression, fearful reactions or accidents occurring, as well as the possibility of transferring disease to the more vulnerable native species. Use good hygiene at all times to ensure the best health of the joey.
  • Be sure to observe all the legal regulations concerning keeping native animals. These regulations vary from state to state and you may need a licence to foster the native animal. There is also a big difference between nurturing it long enough to return the animal to the wild and keeping it as a pet; don't cross the line.
  • All marsupials are lactose intolerant. Never feed them with cow's milk.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft materials, socks, pillowcases, blankets, etc.
  • Hanging areas (good and solid)
  • Baby oil (optional, for fur-less joeys)
  • Sewing items, bulldog clips, pegs or safety pins to enclose parts of the pouch as needed

Sources and Citations

  • Wombaroo pamphlet, undated – research source

Article Info

Categories: Animal Rescue | Wildlife