The Koala is a much loved Aussie Animal. Some people call them "Koala Bears" but they are not bears they are marsupials. Some scientists believe their smell is 10% better than humans. As well as their sense of smell their hearing is very good. But their sight isn't. Their fur is water proof! The only times they will be out of the tree is to wee or to change tree. Koalas often communicate by nose sniffing. Just like Wombats they have a backwards facing pouch so the leaves and sticks don't get into the pouch.
There are two different groups of Koalas. The Southern Koalas and the Northern Koalas. The Northern Koalas are about half the size of the Southern Koalas, have less fur and are lighter in colour. Even though they have differences they are the same species! Strange isn't it.
Koalas are very fussy eaters. They only eat certain types of eucalyptus leaves. Koalas will prefer to eat the new tips of the leaves. The eucalyptus leaves are actually poisonous! But the Koalas stomach breaks all the poison down. The reason they sleep so much is because the eucalyptus leaves gives the Koalas very little energy. They sleep for 18-20 hours a day! There are 700 species of eucalyptus leaves, the Koala only eats 50 types of it and only 12 of them are healthy for them! Koala is an aboriginal word meaning no drink. They got this name because they don't drink because the leaves give them all the water they need. They will only drink in severe conditions like the black Saturday bushfires.
Koalas live in eucalyptus forest in eastern and southern Australia.
Early Life and Caring For Young
A new born Koala joey is hairless and blind. The first of life's challenges is climbing into mums backwards-facing pouch. This is where he spends the next five months of his life. In the pouch there are two teats that they drink milk from. It drinks from these for the next 12 months. The baby will first come out of the pouch when he is covered with fur. To get the baby koalas stomach ready for gum leaves, the mother produces a special type of poo called "Pap" which the baby licks! Yuck! The baby than nibbles on some gum leaves and learns which ones to eat. When the baby gets too big for the pouch he rides on his mothers back. By now the baby is about one year old. Now the mother will have another baby
Koalas have a special plate in their bottom to help them grip trees. Another addition is that they have two thumbs to help them climb! On there they have a grooming claw. This is two claws that come together. This gets rid of parasites and more.
In the wild Koala usually live for 10-15 years. In captivity they can live for 20 years.
Koalas are classified as vulnerable. One of the main threats is as the human population grows more trees are chopped down so this means they have to walk to another tree and this is how many dog attacks happen. There is a plantation in Southern Austraila that plants Blue gum trees. Because of the Koalas diminishing habitat they seek refuge in the plantation. These koalas often die when the plantation trees are harvested! For more info click on the link www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekbl4xH0xHw. Because of their diminishing habitat they are attracted to here. Humans have cleared 80% or more of the iconic Koalas habitat! Koala skin was very popular and nearly made them extinct! "They look much better on the animal" Steve Irwin. Another threat is Chlamydia. This can cause them to wee all day or cause eye problems or they have both at once. Another threat is introduced species like dogs, cats and foxes.
Despite the threats there is still hope for Koalas. There are countless wildlife hospitals that rescue, rehabilitate and release Koalas. Koala skins were very poplar but now they are banned.
How You Can Help
- Save Ballina's Koalas
- Send letter to save Aussie bush fire victims including Koalas
- Adopt a Koala
- Spread The Message
If you live where Koalas live you can also:
- Plant native plants in your backyard
- Have a rope going across your pool so Koalas can get out of your pool as it has been known for Koalas to fall and drown in pools
- Always keep an eye on your dog when your in Koala habitat
- Be careful when driving and slow down in koala habitat areas
- Participate in local tree planting days