Koalas

All about Koalas 

Introduction

 

Did you know that there are two kinds of koalas? The gray koala is the northern kind and the brown one is the southern kind. Have you ever noticed that these animals are always sleeping? That’s because they need to sleep about 18-22 hours a day to conserve their energy. Koalas are nocturnal animals which means that they sleep during the day. You will know everything about them after reading this animal report. 

 

Physical Characteristics

An interesting fact about koalas is that they are in the marsupial family. Marsupials are mammals that are not fully developed and are usually carried in the mother’s pouch. These tiny creatures have wooly fur coats that will protect them in any condition and they also use them as raincoats when it rains. Also, they have long, sharp claws that help them climb eucalyptus trees. Koalas have thick leathery noses that are used to detect poison levels in the eucalyptus leaves. Koalas weigh about 20-30 pounds(lbs.) and they grow about 2-3 feet tall.

 

These wild creatures have a short, almost invisible tail. Koalas have smaller brains than other marsupials. Scientists suggest that their brains use less energy which could be an adaptation that helps them to survive in a low energy diet. Koalas are the only kind of animals that have specific fingerprints like we have, except that their fingerprints are different. These wooly, cute marsupials look like a teddy bear, but they are not a bear. Although they are cute, they cannot be legally kept as pets.

 

Life Cycle 

The koala has three stages in its life cycle. These marsupials begin their life as a newborn. After it is born, it goes to its mother’s pouch from the birth canal without any help from its mother. The newborn uses its well developed senses like touch and smell as well as strong forelimbs and claws to climb to its mother’s pouch. The newborn koala looks like a pink jelly bean without hair and ears and also it is blind.

 

The second stage is when the newborn turns into a joey. The joey drinks it’s mother’s milk for the first 6 to 7 months and remains in the pouch. The young koala drinks its mother’s milk until it is one year old, but it won’t fit in its mother’s pouch anymore. From 12 months onwards, the joeys leave their mother to find their own home range. 

 

The final stage is an adult koala. Life gets harder as they get older because they have to find their own territory. The adults have to look for a safe area without any danger like predators. Also, they have to be sure that there are the right kind of eucalyptus tree species with the tasty gum leaves and near other koalas. They can live 14-16 years in the wild and 16 years in captivity. 

 

Habitat

Koalas can only be found in Australia. These marsupials are in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and A.C.T. (Australian Capital Territories ). Koalas live in a range of territories like coastal Islands and tall eucalyptus forests to low inland woodlands. These tiny animals don’t migrate anywhere and they stay in their home range. They are herbivorous, which means these animals only eat plants and are arboreal, that means that they only live in trees. Since koalas only live “Down Under,” we are lucky to see the creatures in zoos!

 

Food Source

 Koalas, Greater Glider and Ringtail Possum are the only mammals that can live by eating only eucalyptus leaves. They have sharp teeth to chew and cut eucalyptus leaves with tough fiber into small pieces. These leaves contain plenty of fiber and are low in nutrition. Therefore, these mammals have a special organ called a caecum that digests the leaves into tiny bits. The caecum contains millions of bacteria that helps them digest it easily. 

 

Even though there are 900 kinds of eucalyptus trees, these herbivores eat only 50 of them. These animals don’t drink a lot of water because they get water from gum leaves. These marsupials eat 200 – 500 grams of leaves a day. Young koalas’ predators are wild dogs, owls, pythons and foxes. Also, cutting eucalyptus trees for agriculture, housing, mining, shops and roads take away koalas’ habitat. In addition, bushfires can wipe out the koala population. During the 2019-2020 bushfire in Australia, over a third of the koala population has been estimated to be destroyed. 

 

Conclusion

Now you know that koalas are nocturnal marsupials that eat only eucalyptus leaves, and can only be found in Australia. You have already learned a lot about koalas from this article. Finally, I’m going to share a few more interesting facts about them. The AKF (Australian Koala Foundation) estimates that there are only about less than 80,000 koalas left because we are destroying their habitat. Did you know that you can adopt a koala through AKF? If you adopt one, you have to donate money every month and by doing that, you are saving the koala population.