From now on Fridays will include a post highlighting an animal (I won’t always stick to fur n feathers – Australia has too many reptiles, insects, fish and amphibians for us to ignore) of one kind or another.
Today’s furry friend is the Koala.
- Koalas are marsupials, meaning their young are born tiny and live in their mother’s pouch drinking her milk until they are big enough to come out.
- There are three different subspecies of koalas.
- Their habitat ranges from northern Queensland to South Australia.
- Southern koalas are bigger than their northern relatives.
- The koalas’ closest relative is the wombat.
- Different species of eucalyptus grow in different parts of Australia, so a koala in Victoria would have a very different diet from one in Queensland.
- Koalas sleep for 18 hours a day due to the low nutritional value of their diet (primarily eucalyptus leaves) and their very slow metabolic rate.
- Koalas are very cute.
- Koalas are harmless to humans (unless you try to pick a wild one up).
- Koala babies are known as “joeys”, just like the kangaroo.
- Koalas are born pink, virtually hairless and the size of a jellybean.
- Koalas are quite particular about what trees they will use for shelter, socialising and most importantly feeding.
- Koalas have opposable digits on their front paws, just like humans.
Koala in my parents’ backyard on 6th October 2006.
Cute koala, evil eyes.
Koala Myth Busting:
- Koalas are NOT bears. They never have been bears. They never will be bears. The term koala bear is rarely used by Australians.
- Koalas do occasionally drink water, particularly during times of drought, despite their name which means “no drink” in several indigenous dialects.
- Gum leaves do not make koalas drunk. They are as sober as popes (assuming the pope hasn’t been hooking into the blood of christ).
Save The Koala
- Koalas are listed as vulnerable.
- Dogs, cars and most importantly, loss of habitat through tree lopping and deforestation are the koalas’ biggest threats. All of these factors are directly linked to humans.
- The above kill an estimated 4000 koalas a year.
- Since European settlement in Australia an estimated 80% of all eucalypt forest has been destroyed.
- For more info go to www.savethekoala.com
Next Friday: The Terrifically Temperamental Tasmanian Devil