Koalas weigh about 15-20 pounds at maturity. They have a thick, woolly fur, which helps in maintaining their body temperature under harsh environmental conditions. Also, the fur repels water during rains. Though a koala resembles a bear in its physical attributes, it is not even a distant relative of bears. Or in other words, koala bears and true bears are totally different from each other. Some Australian koala facts are presented below.
Truly Arboreal: Koalas are arboreal animals, meaning that they spend their entire life on the eucalyptus tree trunks. The trees not only provide food for the koalas, but they are also a resting place for them. On some days, they sleep on the branches throughout the daytime, for more than 19 hours.
Gender Dimorphism: This is the difference in characteristics between a male koala and a female koala. The adult female is smaller in size than the adult male. Speaking about the species diversity, the koalas inhabiting southern Australia are larger in size and darker in color than the ones inhabiting northern Australia.
Habitat: Indigenous to the Australian states, the koalas' habitat lies in the eastern coast and southern parts of Australia. The inhabiting areas have large and tall eucalyptus trees, which are important as food and sleeping places for these animals. Their natural habitat is found in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia.
Diet: Koala bears are herbivorous animals, and more than 90 percent of their food comprises eucalyptus leaves, which are less nutritious and fibrous. Nevertheless, the koalas' digestive systems are adapted to consuming and digesting eucalyptus leaves.
Young Ones: At birth, a baby koala (called joey) is pink, furless, and weighs about 1/5th of an ounce. After birth, a joey remains in its mother's pouch for nearly six months. As soon as the young koala comes out of the pouch, it stays on its mother's back or clings to the abdomen for another 6 months.
Lifespan: Healthy koalas can live up to 10 years in the wild, provided that there is no shortage of food and favorable conditions are present. They prefer to remain in groups, and choose areas where eucalyptus trees are abundant. It is claimed that koalas take a long time to enter areas where a death has occurred or a dead koala is present.
Some More Facts
- Koalas are nocturnal animals and they feed mostly at nighttime. On an average, they sleep for about 16 hours a day.
- They are good climbers and can climb 150 feet tall trees. Similar to other arboreal animals, they leap from one treetop to another.
- For survival in woodlands, these animals require a lot of space. It is suggested that a single koala needs 100 eucalyptus trees.
- Excess consumption of eucalyptus leaves is poisonous to other animals. However, koalas have an exceptionally long gut that helps in breaking down the tough fibers.
- One koala can eat about 600 g to 1 Kg eucalyptus leaves per day. This is a huge amount, considering their small size.
- They keep a temporary stock of eucalyptus leaves in their pouches. They eat them at any time, when they feel hungry.
- Koalas rarely drink water, as much of the moisture requirement is provided by the eucalyptus leaves. They need water in dry climates, and when there is a shortage of food.
- Their gestation period is short, about 35 days. They give birth to their young ones only once in a year. The infant becomes independent after about 1 year.
- Humans are directly or indirectly responsible for the declining population of koalas. Sometimes, they are attacked by dogs. Otherwise, they do not have any natural predators.