Marsupials Biology and Management

Learn about marsupial animals, the biology of the animals as well as management in the wild and captive animals with this marsupials course.

Course CodeBEN303
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Study Marsupials and understand more about this fascinating classification.

The first historic record of a marsupial occurred in 1,500 AD when to Spain's King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were presented a Brazilian opossum collected during Columbus´s first voyage. A Portuguese administrator in 1540 first described an Australasian marsupial, a northern common cuscus, Phalanger orientalis.

There are now around 330 described species of marsupials with approximately 235 from Australasia, continental Australia and its coastal islands and New Guinea, and approximately 95 from the New World of South, Central and North America. These numbers vary with changes in systematics, and the discovery of new species through phylogenetic analysis and field surveys. In Australasia, marsupials are the dominant terrestrial and arboreal mammals, with placental mammals represented by bats, rodents, exotic species, and shoreline seals and sea lions in southern Australia.

To understand the diversity, biology, behaviour, and wellbeing of marsupial animals and apply that understanding to better managing individual animals or populations of animals, in the wild or in captivity.

It is ideal for people working with animals, those in a wildlife management position or anyone who is hoping to work with animals.

Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction – Scope and Nature, Overview of taxonomy
  2. Anatomy and Physiology – muscles, skeleton, adaptations, thermoregulation, reproduction
  3. Internal anatomy, physiology, and senses
  4. Behaviour – communication, social, handling
  5. Health & Disease
  6. Marsupial Carnivores – The Dasyuromorphia (Families are Dasyuridae (dasyurids), Myrmecobiidae (numbats), and Thylacinidae (thylacinids).
  7. The Diprotodontia -Kangaroos
  8. Other Diprotodontia – koalas, wombats, pygmy possums, sugar gliders, potaroos, ringtail possum
  9. Peramelemorphia - Bandicoots & Bilbies
  10. Other Marsupials
  11. Marsupial Conservation and Management - Sustainable Management

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain the likely origin of marsupials.
    • Explain classification of marsupials.
    • Identify common external anatomical features in marsupials.
    • To explain common and diverging characteristics in the internal biology of marsupials.

Why Study with ACS?

  • Start any time, work at your own pace
  • Tutors include a team of world class zoologists who have worked across the world.

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