Koalas, also known as koala bears, are famous for their big round head, black spoon-shaped nose, and furry ears. Their fur varies from silver-grey to chocolate-brown, and they might look like they have tails, but mind you, they don’t! They are primarily found in the eucalyptus forests of Eastern and Southeastern Australia.
These little bears are renowned for being “sleep-loving” creatures. Imagine, they can sleep up to 20 hours per day! I bet you wouldn’t challenge them in a sleeping contest. Want to know more about them? Brace yourselves for these fascinating koala facts.
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They are Marsupials
Did you know that they’re marsupial mammals? Like kangaroos, wombats, and opossums, baby koalas need to be kept inside their mothers’ pouches for at least six months or until they have fully matured. In that stage, joeys are being nursed by their mothers’ milk and go wherever she is.
Typically, baby koalas spend five to six more months with their moms being carried on their backs or abdomen. During this time, they start to learn to grasp leaves and return to the pouch to sleep or hide. After a year, female koalas can be very aggressive, forcing the joeys to leave and survive independently. Well, that’s undoubtedly one of the harshest koala facts!
In about three or four years, female koalas can and can start breeding. They can only produce one offspring per year, but there are rare cases that they have twin births. Though it’s mentioned that they can give birth every year, some female koalas produce offspring only every two or three years, depending on other factors such as age, food, and habitat quality.
Relatively, adult female koalas have a clean white chest and a backward pouch to hold their young. It protects their babies from any injury while jumping around in different trees. Just like us humans, mother koalas have a specific type of body to cater to their joeys needs.
There are lots of differences between male and female koalas. One is that the male koalas are about half the size of female koalas. This means that they will need more food and water to consume due to their size. Also, they spend a little more time in the eucalyptus trees than females since they needed to save more energy and eat more.
It is also known that male koala have a shorter lifespan than females due to fighting. Male koalas usually spend their time finding a mate and fighting others. Despite staying longer above the ground longer, they tend to travel longer to find their mates.
The natural enemies/predators of koala include pythons, dingoes, powerful owls, goannas, and wedge-tailed eagles, mainly a danger to young koalas. Another problem that poses a threat to koalas is Chlamydiaceae bacteria. This causes several infections, particularly in their eyes and urinary tracts. Plus, it also infects the reproductive organs.
Finally, koalas are in great danger from bushfires due to the hot and dry climate in Australia. Unlike other animals, koala have this instinct to climb higher up the trees whenever they see the fire, which will eventually cause their death due to trees falling or them suffocating in the smoke.
Things you should NOT do
You can’t keep them as your pet! Even deserted joeys or sick koala need to be returned to the wild once fully recovered. Another one that you should keep in mind, nursing koalas through bottles can risk water entering their lungs, which can cause pneumonia. Instead, tourists should use cups, bowls, and other similar ways when giving them water and let the koala drink it on their own.
Although these magnificent creatures are protected by the law and not classified as an endangered species yet, they’re now on the red list and called “vulnerable” due to their decreasing numbers. We should not wait before everything’s too late and start doing our best to save the koalas!