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AbstractThis article focuses on gastrointestinal diseases that affect 3 of the most common marsupials treated by veterinarians: the red kangaroo (Macropus rufus), Bennett's wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus), and the sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps). Other marsupial species maintained in captivity include the eastern gray kangaroo (Macropus gigantus), the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii), and the wallaroo (Macropus robustus). Most all of the disease conditions discussed in this article are also diagnosed in the lesser species listed earlier. Marsupials derive their name from the presence of the marsupial bones (ossa marsupialia), which serve as the surface for the attachment of several abdominal muscles. The ossa marsupialia were once thought to support the marsupium (pouch), although this was an incorrect assumption. The metabolic rate of marsupials is generally considered to be approximately two-thirds that of eutherian or placental mammals. Marsupials belong to a unique group of animals whose development is characterized by a very short gestation, the birth of relatively underdeveloped young (joeys), and a lengthy period of lactational development that typically occurs in a pouch. The physiologic differences that exist between marsupials and eutherian mammals should be considered when managing disease conditions in these animals.

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