Unique facts about Koala – the iconic marsupial of Australia

Unique Facts about Koala

Koala together with kangaroo and dingo is a symbol of Australia. Read and learn unique facts about koalas to understand how special this little animal is.

Some people call them ‘koala bears’ but this is not true as koalas are marsupial which means they carry their children in the pouch the same way as kangaroos and wombats.

To be more precise, the koala pouch is more similar to wombats because it opens towards the bottom.

Young Koala
Young Koala

Despite koalas being well known Australian icons, it is not easy to spot them in the wild. They mainly live on the East Coast of Australia.

During our trips, we only encounter a wild koala one time. It was in Tasmania. We drove to one of the hiking spots and we saw Koala crossing the road. We stopped the car and waited a bit until the koala disappeared into the bushes.

What’s the Koala diet?

This cute and fluffy animal sleeps 20 hours a day mainly because of its poor nutrition diet. Koalas feed only on the specific type of eucalyptus leaves, like Manna Gum, Blue Gum, River Red Gum, and Swamp Gum.

Out of 900 eucalyptus species found in Australia, only 25 types of eucalyptus is a source food for koalas. Eucalyptus leaves provide them with high fibre and low protein. It means koalas are forced to slow down their metabolism in order to conserve energy.

Koala diet full of eucalyptus leaves causes them to sleep 20 hours per day.
Koala diet full of eucalyptus leaves causes them to sleep 20 hours a day.

Koala breeding

A female koala can live 12 to 18 years and during her lifespan can have around 5-6 offspring.

Young koalas are called joey (all marsupial youngs are called a joey).

When they are born are the size of jellybeans. After they are born they move to their mother’s pouch and stay there for around 6 months. During that time they develop ears, hair and start to see.

What is interesting, they feed on their mother’s milk for about 5 to 6 months. After that, they start eating their mother’s poo. Mothers poo called ‘pap’ contains a special type of bacteria the koala joeys need to digest eucalyptus leaves. Very interesting!

Koala breeding is an exciting process
Koala breeding is an exciting process

Interesting facts about koalas

Despite the opinion that kolas are not very smart and have a tiny brain, researchers from Brisbane Griffith University created man-made crossings, to prevent road accidents.

The clever koalas worked out how to use the structures in three weeks, proving you can teach the furry animal new tricks.

Another interesting fact is that koalas have two thumbs! Two opposite thumbs make really easy to grab a brunch evenly and navigate between the trees with ease. They also have long, sharp claws.

Unique Facts about Koala - Koalas have two thumbs
Unique Facts about Koala – Koalas have two thumbs

And if you wonder if koalas have a tail or not the answer is – no. They do not have a tail. However, their bone structure indicates that sometimes in the past external tail was present.

Let’s not forget the fact that koalas can make one of the most unsettling sounds of the Australian bush. You can listen to the sound here.

Generally, males growl during mating season and females make clicking, and squeaking sounds but also can produce grunts to signal annoyance.

Unique Facts about Koala - Koalas make distrubing sounds.
Unique Facts about Koala – Koalas make disturbing sounds.

What are koalas main threats?

Habitat loss is the greatest threat to koalas.

In South East Queensland, an average of almost 300 koalas are killed each year by cars. During times of stress, koalas are prone to outbreaks of bacterial infections (chlamydia). Diseases reduce the immune system response and cause blindness and female infertility.

Dogs are also a major threat to the koala population. Around 75 koalas are killed each year in Queensland from dog attacks.

Climate changes are also a major threat to the koala population. About 5,000 koalas are thought to have died in devastating 2019 bushfires. Fire damage affected 24 % of koala habitats.

Koalas are iconic Australian animals known all over the world, and we should do everything to protect them for future generations.

Where spotted: Magnetic Island, Tasmania, Brisbane

Unique Facts about Koala – more information

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