Don’t call them bears. While some people may refer to them as koala bears, they are actually marsupials. Other marsupials include kangaroos, wallabies, possums, and wombats.
Koalas are herbivores that are native to Australia. They live and eat in eucalyptus trees.
Where Do They Live?
Koalas are native to southeastern and eastern Australia. They spend almost their entire lives in the forks of eucalyptus trees.
The only time they are on the ground is when they are traveling to another tree.
What Do They Look Like?
Koalas are between 24 and 33 inches tall. They can weight up to 31 pounds.
To help them be more comfortable in trees, koalas have a curved spine, a small tail, and rounded rear end.
Their hands are specially designed to help them hold onto branches. They have two opposable thumbs, and sharp claws.
Koalas have pads on their hands and feet that allow them to grip branches. A koala can climb as high as 150 feet.
The koala face is easily recognizable with its broad, round nose, and fluffy ears.
What Do They Eat?
Koalas eat the leaves of eucalyptus trees. They can eat as much as 3 pounds of leaves a day.
A diet of eucalyptus leaves does not provide very much spare energy. This is why the koala is often seen sleeping or resting.
Eucalyptus leaves are poisonous to most animals. Koalas have special bacteria that live inside of their pouch that help them digest the poison within the eucalyptus leaves.
There are over 600 types of eucalyptus trees. Koalas like to eat the leaves of about three dozen.
How Do They Behave?
Koalas are mostly solitary. They are most active at night.
They are known to eat dirt to help digest their eucalyptus diet.
Koalas sleep up to 20 hours a day. This is a strategy that they use to try and conserve energy.
Koalas have several different vocalizations. They bellow, snore, and even scream.
Male koalas have a scent gland on their chest that they use to rub onto tree branches.
Koalas can live to be 20 years old.
Female koalas give birth to one baby koala at a time. A baby koala is called a joey.
After being pregnant for about 35 days, the koala gives birth to a joey that is about the size of a jelly bean. The joey stays inside the mother’s pouch where it continues to grow.
Koalas have rear facing pouches that open towards their hind legs. The joey stays inside the pouch for six months.
After about six months a joey no longer returns to its mother’s pouch, but instead clings to her back. A koala can live on its own at about 1 year.
- Koalas were hunted for their furs and were nearly extinct in the 1920s and 1930s
- Today koalas are separated by farmland and urban areas, making them still susceptible to extinction
- A koala’s coat is coarse, and feels like sheep’s wool
- They have a claw on their feet that they use for grooming
- Ancient koalas could possibly have been the size of a full-grown bull