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Fur n Feather Friday

27 Oct

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.

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  • 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.

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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).

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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

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Next Friday: The Terrifically Temperamental Tasmanian Devil

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Posted by on October 27, 2006 in Animals

 

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