Who are koalas ?
60 – 80 cm
5 – 12 kg
10 – 20 years
Female or male ?
The easiest way to distinguish males from females is to have a look at their breasts. If it is entirely white, you’e certainly facing a lady koala. Males have a brownish patch with almost no hairs where its scent gland is.
Koalas are nocturnal and solitary animals. Each individual fiercely defends its territory ! Males and females even tend to avoid each other when it’s not breeding season.
While female mark their territories by urinating or defecating, males rub their scent gland on tree trunks. Watch out, private property !
When it comes to food, koalas are fussy eaters : they almost exclusively feed on eucalyptus leaves. And among the 600 different varieties, only 35 suit them. Then, each leave is thoroughly inspected for color, smell or aspect before being chosen (or dismissed) !
Eucalyptus has a big drawback. It is very poor when it comes to nutrition : very little protein, lots of fibers and a huge amount of poisonous substances. This leads to two major consequences. First of all, koalas lack of energy. Even though they feed 6 to 8 hours feeding each and every night, they sleep 18 hours a day on average ! And then, in order to be able to digest eucalyptus leaves, koalas livers need some microorganisms that are able to neutralise the poison in it. And we’ll soon discover that it’s not something baby koalas are born with.
Female koalas give birth once a year and they generally only come up with one offspring. Just like with all marsupials, the baby is born underdeveloped and is called a joey. Still naked, pink in color and striped with blood vessels, it weighs less than 0.5 grams ! It just has enough energy in order to find shelter in its mom pouch where it will finish growing hooked to one of its nipple. It is only five months later that it will start and venture outside. Since then, it not only feeds on its breast milk but also on some sort of predigested mush made of eucalyptus leaves coming directly out of its mother digestive system. This is how baby koala acquire the aforementioned microorganisms that it needs to deal with eucalyptus toxicity.
Where to see koalas ?
In the wild, koalas are only found in Australia ! But even there, you won’t find them everywhere in the country. Have a look by yourself.
This is an interactive map, don’t hesitate to mouse over it.
Territories where there are koalas in the wild
Territories where we have already observed koalas in the wild
How to observe koalas ?
Finding a koala in the wild is not that easy. You will need both patience and good eyesight ! Those little fur balls don’t suffer from vertigo and they like to be in eucalyptus trees. We find them high up (partly) hidden in foliage. And trying to take pictures of them can quickly become a frustrating activity due to backlighting.
Our tip : If you’re in a place known to be home for koalas, look up and check each and every tree carefully. Also don’t hesitate to go back to make sure you didn’t miss anything. And don’t expect any kind of movement that could help you spot them !
Meet Mickey Koala !
Are you also wondering how those big fur balls manage to hold onto branches that are so small ?
Imagine how surprised we were when we found this one walking on the ground ! At first I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and thought it was a dog…
Are koalas in danger ?
Estimation of the number of koala individuals living in the wild :
Since the arrival of the first European settlers in Australia, koala has become a vulnerable species.
What are the causes ?
Back then, koalas suffered a lot from fur trade. This threat doesn’t exist anymore but there are still other problems.
First of all comes habitat loss. Urbanization, logging and agriculture are all source of deforestation. With less trees, koalas tend to travel more on the ground and they become prey for animals like dogs and dingos when they’re not hit by cars on the road.
Another threat to koalas is climate change. With more frequent drought and higher temperatures, eucalyptus leaves on which they feed on lose their qualities and are not as nutritious. Bush fires are also more frequent and destroy their habitat.
And since it seems not to be enough for them, koalas are facing a huge epidemic of chlamydia. This sexually transmitted disease causes sight loss, infertility and even death. It is spreading very quickly, decimating poor little critters.
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