MARTY'S TALE
Marty arrived at Roo Gully on the night of 31st May 2002, after his mother was killed in a road accident.
Marty
Western Grey joeys, from our area, arriving in May/June are usually under a kilo so we were surprised to discover Marty weighed 2.444 kilos, and his tail and foot measurements indicated that he was nearly 9 months old, proving to us that he was a very early joey and more than likely born before what is currently thought to be the Western Grey kangaroo breeding season. Many scientific text books state that Western Grey kangaroos are seasonal breeders, their breeding season beginning in October and lasting until March each year, but during Roo Gully's study into joey development we had begun to dispute this. Molly had given birth to Karri in May, and then Jake was orphaned in January weighing only 1 kilo. Plus for several years we have been filming does exhibiting behaviour significant with being in oestrus even in the winter months in Australia.
Marty behaviour confirmed his age. He was a typical born again joey. His pads showed evidence of having been on the ground, he was able to stand without too much wobbling, but there was no doubt he still lacked confidence.
Kris cuddles Marty
Kristina, a young student from the UK, was staying with us when Marty arrived, and she fell instantly in love with him.
Marty was difficult to feed and was the first joey we have cared for that really hated Wombaroo milk.
We changed to this milk formula in 2001, and have had great success with it. No fur loss, no diarrhoea, and terrific steady weight gains. We think this milk is fantastic, but Marty just didn't like it. At first we thought we would persist, but when each feed time became a battle between carer and joey, we changed him over to Formula One, a universal milk formula. Tasting a little sweeter Marty preferred that, but he never was one of those joeys who got excited when he saw a bottle.
Marty has bottle
Kris toilets Marty
Kristina threw herself, heart and soul, into caring for Marty. Once he was feeding better she gave him his bottles, and did not hesitate when it came to toileting him.
And of course Kristina and Marty had plenty of cuddles.
Kris Marty in bed
Marty in bedroom
As Marty settled into his new life with humans it became time to start lessons.
Like all our joeys Marty was encouraged to begin walking on the carpet in our bedroom, and within a few weeks he trusted us all enough to lay out of his bag on the lounge floor with Roy.
Marty and dad
When a joey comes into care they have to bond with their human carer. Not only does this give them a feeling of security but it is also vitally important for their safety, especially outside.
Female kangaroos can inflict serious injury, or even worse, if a joey that is not their own tries to enter their pouch so, when they are very young, joeys must learn to come to their human carers, and tipple tail into their cloth pouch, rather than run to other kangaroos.
Marty knew his bag was his safe haven, but he was more reluctant to somersault into it. Kristina and her two uni mates, Emma and Becky who joined her at Roo Gully as volunteers, spent hours trying to get Marty to hop back in his pouch.
Marty
Eventually he got the hang of it and, confident he would come back to us if he got into trouble, he was allowed to run and hop at speed around the garden.
Marty hopping
Everyone loved Marty. He was not boisterous, like George. Instead he was a quiet little joey, and oh so very cute.
Marty cute
Marty cute
Sadly there was a reason for his endearing 'smile'. Marty's bottom jaw is shorter than it should be. This means his bottom incisor teeth do not fit snugly behind the top incisors, which caused him some feeding problems.
Marty's smile
Marty smiling
We have noticed this abnormality in other joeys and we hope by collating information, such as gender, age, and where the kangaroo was born, we might discover if this condition is caused by chemicals used in these areas by agriculture, or inbreeding.
Also by monitoring the condition we hope to document if there is any improvement as the joey reaches maturity and, if not, how it affects the general health of the adult kangaroo and its longevity.
Marty had many difficulties when we encouraged him to begin eating grasses and native bushes, but he eventually adapted his bite and mastered the art of grazing and browsing.
Marty eats grevillea
Marty has also become one the subjects of another study being carried out at Roo Gully. During our ongoing study into joey development we began to discover how kangaroos teach their young, what makes a joey feel secure, and how they are taught to gain confidence. Learning from the mothers in the Roo Gully mob we improved how we care for the orphaned joeys, and realised how responsible we are for their early education.
Marty has been filmed throughout his care at Roo Gully and, like most of the kangaroos, he seems to enjoy being a star, and has never been camera shy!
Marty filmed
The relationship between joey and human works well until the joey gets older, and wants to be more active during the evening. Then the time has arrived for the joey to join the mob, but long before that time comes all orphaned joeys raised by us are introduced to the Roo Gully mob gradually, and very gently.
Molly meets Marty

Safely cuddled in Kristina's arms, Marty went down the creek and met Molly.

 

Then snuggled up with me he met our oldest, but gentlest male, Sevvy.
Sevvy was only 750 grams when he came to Roo Gully, and he grew to be a very loving kangaroo, especially with the young orphaned joeys.
Sevvy meets Marty
As he got older we took Marty down to meet the mob at every opportunity. The other roos were curious about this newcomer to their mob, but generally they just had a quick sniff then got back to the business in hand, usually grazing.
On these occasions Marty met Maisy and Jake.
Maisy meets Marty
Jake meets Marty
Bron meets Marty
But it was this first meeting between Bron and Marty that was to prove to be so important to our studies into a joey's education, and roles within the mob.
Kristina's stay at Roo Gully was about to end, and the day finally arrived when Marty had to say good bye to his special mate.
Kristina says good bye
A few days later Marty decided it was time to start spending most of his days outside with the mob, and it was not long before Sevvy took him under his wing.
Marty loves Sevvy
Marty loved his new mate, standing for hours next to him, licking and grooming him, and it was amazing to see that Sevvy was so patient with him.
Marty with Sevvy
Our observations of Sevvy and Marty's behaviour, and the film we were shooting, was so important into our ongoing study into how the joey gains its ranking within the mob, how it learns to become a kangaroo, and which kangaroos continue its education. Sadly a few months later Sevvy and two other roos, Sonny and Max, were frightened by a stray dog that ran around the roo's fenced area. They charged one of the emergency release gates and ran for the bush beyond. After five months Max returned, but so far he is the only one. Marty had lost his mate.
However he did have one other kangaroo that he had attached himself to - Bron. And she helped Marty immensely when he decided he wanted to spend his nights out with the mob too. She loved him dearly, and they were so close that many visitors assumed they were in fact a mother and her young at foot.
Marty loves Bron
Marty with Bron
It was to be an astounding relationship.
A few months later we observed Marty spending time with Sadie, the dominant female of the mob. We have noticed that all the older joeys do this for a few weeks at least, and it seems she is an important part of their education. Maybe as boss lady she is the chief examiner!
Marty with Sadie
In the meantime we began to realise that Bron had clearly assumed the role of the mob's kindergarten teacher, and when Marty graduated from Sadie's class he returned to his 'mum' to find he had to share her with the other young orphaned joeys who have now now since left the house and joined the mob under her guidance and care.
Bron with Marty and her kids
But Marty accepted this Bron's role, after all life in the bush was really becoming fun, especially when he joined boxing classes with the older boys.
Marty spars with Splodge
Marty Bron at dusk
But he still loves his Bron - and she still loves her Marty.
We estimate it costs approximately $1000 to raise a young joey. By 'adopting' you will help us raise Marty and many more young joeys like him, and you will also help fund the many studies he is involved in. We hope these studies will eventually lead to a better understanding of kangaroos and their behaviour.
On behalf of Marty and his mates we thank you for caring

Marty's Tale © Roo Gully 2003