Koalas have two thumbs on each front paw, that help them grip tree branches and trunks. However, their back paws have only one thumb without claw, and the second and third finger fused together forming a hook they can use to remove ticks from their fur.
Koalas are nocturnal animals and, even though sometimes they eat during the day, they usually sleep when the sun is up. They sleep an average of 18-20 hours each day (it is the animal that sleeps the most). They need so much resting time because it requires a lot of energy to digest the eucalyptus leaves, which are toxic.
Koalas live in trees that “belong to them” and they move from one to the other to feed. Males have a dark gland on their chest that they rub against trees leaving a sticky substance to mark their territory.
Out of all the different sounds they use to communicate, one is especially bizarre. They make noises that sound like a snore followed by a burp. This is called a “bellow”.
Like Wombats, koalas have a backward facing marsupial pouch where they carry and protect their babies when they are young.
When a baby koala is born, it is only 2 cm long (less than 1 in), it is blind, deaf and has no fur. It will drink milk and grow in its mother pouch during the first 6 or 7 months. After that, it will start eating a substance produced by the mother that prepares its digestive tract to be a able to eat the toxic eucalyptus leaves.
Koala means “no water” in Aboriginal language. This animals get the water they need from the moisture of the leaves they eat (almost 0.5 kg/1 lb each day). However, they can climb down from the trees to drink water if the weather is very dry. Its body is only capable of absorbing 25% of the nutrients in the leaves the eat.
There are over 600 types of eucalyptus. Koalas only eat 12 of them and only when the leaves are at a particular stage of growth. They are very fussy eaters. This, along with the vast territory they need and deforestation, is making the population of koalas decrease.
They are very good at swimming and they can cross rivers if needed at times of flooding.
This animals have an appendix like humans, but in the koala it can be up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft) long. The appendix stores up bacteria that helps them to digest the eucalyptus leaves.
Although it may not seem so, koalas can run as fast as rabbits. And they don’t sweat because they do not have sweat glands.
Not all koalas look the same. Those from the South are considerably larger and its fur is a lot thicker to survive the cold temperatures of the Winter.
|COMMON NAME||CONSERVATION STATUS|
|Phascolarctos||60-85 cms (23.6-33.5 in)|
|Phascolarctidae||8-14 kg (17.6-30.8 lb)|
|An estimated 43,000 koalas in Australia.||They mainly eat eucalyptus leaves.|
|Eucalypt forests.||Koalas live only in certain regions of Australia, covering a geographic range of around 1 million square kilometers.|