In Australia, Koalas, commonly known as “Koala bears,” are marsupials, not bears. These captivating animals are adored for their appearance and gentle demeanour. This article will delve into Koalas, examining their habitat, physical traits, dietary habits, behaviour patterns and their distinctive significance in culture and indigenous customs.
The scientific name given to them is Phascolarctos cinereus, as they belong to the phascolarctidae family. There are many amazing facts about Koalas. Koalas have well-developed senses and inborn senses regarding things around them.
They are herbivorous marsupial mammals, while bears are omnivorous placental mammals. They are found in coastal areas of mainland southeastern and eastern Australia, mainly inhabiting Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
These cute baby animals are easily recognized by their tailless, round, fluffy body, big black button nose, and big furry ears. They are primarily seen in their grey furs, ranging from silver grey to chocolate brown. The male Koala is called a ‘buck,’ and a female koala is known as a ‘doe.’ Northern Koalas are typically smaller and lighter in colour than their fellow species in the south. They are asocial animals and usually like to stay with their family.
Moreover, Koala’s habitat is primarily in Eucalyptus trees. The koalas’ diet consists of Eucalyptus leaves as the eucalyptus leaves have the perfect amount of nutritional and caloric content for these sedentary lifestyle animals. Now, let’s find out some interesting facts about Koalas. These animals are the cutest, most entertaining, and most loved worldwide.
1. Cute Paws of Koalas
Koalas have five fingers on each front paw, two of which are opposed to the others; much like us humans, their thumbs can also move differently from the fingers. This helps them have a good grip on the trees, as that is their natural habitat. They need to grip firmly onto the branches and grip their food. Their hind paws’ second and third digits are fused to form a grooming claw.
One more exciting thing to know is that Koalas have fingerprints. They are the only animals other than anthropoids that have them. Each one of them has a unique fingerprint and also has a unique pattern to them. They also have unique patterns or designs on their noses, which wildlife biologists usually use to identify and track them.
They have opposable thumbs, unlike most mammals. They have two opposable thumbs. This helps them have a better gripping ability. Their paws are bear-like but primarily designed for climbing trees rather than attacking other koalas or animals.
Koalas have strong arms, powerful legs, and sharp claws for climbing trees, as they usually live on trees. However, they climb down and walk on the ground to move between different trees. As their paws are made to help them climb trees, they’re not habituated to walking on the ground. Therefore, they stroll on foot, poorly adapted to walking on the floor. But a disturbed koala can move at 30km per hour.
2. Baby Koalas are the Cutest
Yes, it is a fact that baby Koalas are the cutest. Baby Koalas stay in their mother’s pouch for most of their infancy. Even after seven months of birth, the baby Koala rides on its mother’s back and lives in its mother’s bag for food, survival, and sleep.
Baby Koalas mostly stay with their families as they’re very attached to their families, especially their mothers and offspring. Baby Koalas habitually hug their caregivers when they fall or get hurt.
Baby Koalas aren’t giant when they’re born. They’re just the size of our palms and must be cared for by their moms. Therefore, they spend their early childhood in the pockets of their moms or being playful around them.
An adult Koala eats between 200 and 500 grams of Eucalyptus leaves daily. Baby koalas are known as joeys- in fact, all baby marsupials are called joeys- sugar glider joeys, etc. These baby Koalas stay in their mothers’ pouch for almost six to seven months.
They need the physical warmth of someone to reassure them. As they have been sheltered their whole life, they aren’t comfortable with new people. They crave familiarity.
3. Koalas Being Fussy Eaters—Eucalyptus Trees
Koalas are very fussy eaters. They mainly depend on the leaves of eucalyptus trees. It is a splendid fact, as eucalyptus leaf is poisonous to most animals. Koalas have a unique fibre-digesting organ called caecum, which helps them detoxify the leaves’ chemicals.
The diet of koalas is mostly eucalyptus leaf, lophostemon, melaleuca, and corymbia species (such as brush box, paperbark, and bloodwood trees). But even they can be picky eaters. Moreover, they would even often choose the leaves at the top of the tallest trees that contain more liquid and nutrients.
Therefore, the koala habitat must be considered as they are the most important for the Koala bears to survive. Individual koalas usually have one to three specific eucalyptus species that they will eat regularly and preserve others for special occasions or occasional snacks or resting spots.
4. Koalas Don’t Drink Much Water
The word Koala is thought to mean “no drink” or something that means not to drink. This originated with Aboriginal people, believed to have coexisted with the koala bear for thousands of years.
And it is also scientifically proven that koalas don’t need to drink much water as their diet already contains juicy eucalyptus leaves. Koalas have been seen drinking water from creeks and water holes in captivity, and wild koalas may also come and accept water from humans during drought or after a forest fire.
But such behaviour has been considered unusual and mostly means that the koala is disease-stricken or stressed. Drinking from free-standing water or licking trees may be regarded as natural behaviour. The lack of natural water may be detrimental to the koala populations as it would affect their ability to access free water.
5. Koalas Sleep a Lot
Koalas are capable of sleeping up to 20 hours a day. It is primarily due to their low-energy diet of Eucalyptus leaves. They also need intense energy to break down the toxic oils in the eucalyptus leaves.
Koalas are mostly nocturnal animals and are most active at night, around dusk and dawn. They may also be seen moving in the day if the conditions around them aren’t satisfactory.
They also do this to conserve energy. They use all the extra time for digesting their food and dozing off. There are common facts about koalas. Due to their well-known features and ability to sleep for as long as 20 hours a day, koalas are considered a symbol of Australia worldwide. Don’t you, too, wish to be a koala for some time?
6. Koalas’ Living Habits
Each Koala’s home is made up of several trees and is hence called “Home Trees.” They frequently visit these same trees regularly. The area that is covered by these trees is called the Koala’s Home Range.
Koalas are reclusive animals living within a network of overlapping home ranges, which allows contact between the male and female koalas for mating. Males will try to establish dominance over the home ranges of several female koalas during the mating season. This home range varies from southern and central Queensland, varying in size from 1km to 135 km, depending on the koala population and the abundance of suitable Eucalyptus or food trees.
These home ranges are safe places for koalas. But sometimes, the male koalas may fight other koalas to establish their rule. The Koalas have already found their territory and only let people enter it if they put up a good fight. Therefore, one should be careful while crossing paths with the Koalas.
7. Koalas Smell Like Eucalyptus Leaf
The mature male Koalas tend to have a muskier, pungent smell, while females and adolescents give off a slight eucalyptus smell. It, in turn, works as a natural insect repellent.
A mature male has a dark scent gland in the centre of his white chest, excluding a dark, sticky substance. He then rubs this substance on the trees to mark his territory and let other koalas about the same. These marsupials have a unique scent according to age, size, habitat, etc.
8. Koalas Have Lush Butts
As koalas stay on the branches of the trees, their bottoms are very sore. That’s why they have strong cartilage at the end of their curved spine. Which, in turn, helps them be comfortable in their habitat.
Due to this extra cushion, they can happily make the Eucalyptus forest their home range. This also helps them when they tumble down or fall from the trees while playing or climbing. These extra lush butts help cushion their fall and ensure they aren’t hurt severely.
9. Koala Habitats Have Been Decreasing
Most Koalas have nowhere to go when their natural habitat is destroyed by deforestation and mindless cutting of trees and forests. Tree-cutting has tripled in South Australia and Western Australia in the last two to three years. With the constant decline in the number of trees, even the koala numbers have been decreased.
Koalas now spend more time on the grounds searching for food and shelter. In turn, they are victims of car accidents, being attacked by other animals, and getting ill due to stress-induced diseases like chlamydia. Moreover, Australia has recently had one of the highest land clearing rates in the world. These have all made it difficult for the koalas to reproduce or live longer.
10. Koalas are Slowly Diminishing
Even though Koalas are under the government protection act, they still live on privately owned lands. Due to Australia’s massive bushfires, the numbers further dwindled.
The number of Koalas dying from car accidents and being attacked by other animals, especially dogs, has increased in recent years. The increase of diseases in Koalas is also a significant concern. The koalas are lonely animals from the start, so they can’t fathom being separated from their family. They like to stay with their closest relative.
Their population has been declining because of a mix of reasons: habitat loss, wildfires and diseases. The destruction of their eucalyptus tree homes caused by deforestation resulting from urbanization and agriculture has left them without food and shelter.
The severe bushfires that ravaged Australia worsened the situation, causing injuries and further destroying their habitats. The Australian government should look into this matter seriously and take the necessary steps to save them.
In conclusion, Koalas are marsupials that have become iconic due to their appearance and unique way of life. These beloved animals are native to Australia. They face challenges in today’s world, such as the loss of their natural habitats, diseases, and the impact of climate change.
In February 2022, the koalas were officially listed as endangered in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, and Queensland koalas. Even Koala habitat loss has become a big concern for the Australian government.
We must actively engage in conservation efforts to ensure the survival of Koalas and protect their environments. By increasing awareness promoting reforestation and implementing initiatives to combat diseases like chlamydia, we can contribute to safeguarding these creatures.
Moreover, Koalas remind us of preserving biodiversity and maintaining an ecological balance. This underscores the need for stewardship to secure their future on our planet.
Australia has been a really great travel location for me. The atmosphere and the hustle and bustle of the country really bring me joy. Being interested in writing too, this came as a perfect opportunity to share my knowledge and experiences with the whole world. Hope you enjoy reading the same.