Koalas are one of the most famous animal of Australia. They can only be found in the wild on the southeast and eastern sides of Australia, along the coastlines of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. You may be familiar with them but, do you know these fluffy creatures aren’t bears actually, they are one of the laziest animals, and they have extraordinary diet. Yes, there is a lot to know as you read our Koala facts.
Koalas aren’t bear actually, they are Marsupials. You might heard ‘Koala Bear‘, but it’s wrong. They obviously look like and also known as Grey Pocket Bears for their fluffy coat, round ears and big nose. But, they share more characteristics with Marsupials like Wombat. They generally grow 25-30 inches and weigh around 15-30 pounds, whereas their average lifespan is about 20 years.
Their feet is extraordinary. They have 5 fingers on each paw but front paws have 3 finger at front and 2 fingers on opposite side like our thumb. Whereas the hind paws are also same but, the 3rd and 4rth finger fused together to form a grooming claw. It help them to hold tree branches and food firmly.
These creatures are very picky eaters. Their favorite is Eucalyptus leaf but, they do feed on less than 50 species out of 700 Eucalyptus species. Even they prefer the leaves on the top containing more liquid and nutrients. Eucalyptus is poisonous for most animals but, Koalas have specially developed fiber digesting organ called a cecum, which helps to detoxify the chemicals of the leaves. They eat up-to 0.5-1kgs of these leaves every day.
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They have strong cartilage at the end of their curved spine, allowing them to make eucalyptus trees a comfortable place to sit. Trees are not well suited to sit and relax for long time but, their extraordinary adaptation help them to eat, relax and sleep most of the time on trees.
5. It is a rumor that Koalas do sleep long because they get drugged or drunk due to the Eucalyptus leaves. But, in reality these leaves aren’t enough for them to provide the nutrients and energy. So, they do sleep for up-to 18 hours a day in order to conserve energy.
Baby Koalas are called ‘joeys’. Being a marsupial they born undeveloped. About 2 centimeters long, blind, fur less and stay in their mother’s pouch for about six months. This time the Joeys feed on milk only.
7. After 6-7 months they ride on their mothers’ back, but continues to return in pouch as it get too big to fit in.
These creatures are mostly nocturnal. As nocturnal animals are awake at night and asleep during the day, Koalas sleep for part of the night and also sometimes in the daytime also.
9. Being 6-7 months old, Joeys feed on a substance called ‘pap’ which is a specialized form of the mother’s droppings that is soft and runny. It allows them to pass on the special micro-organisms from mother’s intestine which are necessary for joey to digest the gum leaves. It feeds on this for a period of up to a few weeks.
Males do have dark scent gland in the center of their white chest which exudes a dark, sticky substance. They rub this on trees to indicate their territory.
11. Each Koala’s home is made up of several trees called ‘Home Trees‘. They visit these same trees regularly and the area these trees cover, is called their ‘Home Range‘. Each of them has own home range, which overlaps area of others. But, they don’t visit others’ home trees in general unless breeding. The size of home ranges depend upon factors like- the quality of the habitat, sex, age and social position in Koala population.
These creatures do not need to drink normally as they get all the moisture from the gum leaves. However, they can drink if necessary, such in times of drought when the leaves may not contain sufficient moisture.
13. They communicate with each other by making a range of noises. The most unexpected is how a gentle animal do make sound like a loud snore and then a belch, known as a ‘bellow’.
Scientists used thermal cameras to notice them hanging in trees. It showed that when the weather is warm, in order to stay cool these creatures move to the lower parts of the trees and press themselves close to the trunks.
15. Their fingerprints can be mistaken for one another, as their hands are covered in warts.
Approximately 90% of Koala population is vulnerable to chlamydia and it usually manifests when they are in stressful situations. The disease can cause blindness and reproductive tract infections.
17. They are loosing habitat due to deforestation. Not having trees, they are spending more time on ground to find food. Sadly, this is when they are most vulnerable to being hit by vehicles, attacked by dogs and falling ill to stress-induced diseases like chlamydia.
18. It is estimated, there are likely to be less than 80,000 Koalas remaining in Australia today and it could be as low as 43,000. Much of their habitat has already been lost. Which makes it very important to save what is left.