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Koala image
Koala

Koala

(Mammal)

Koala Baby
Koala Baby

Koala Habits

The koala lives almost exclusively in the top braches of eucalyptus trees. Its strong legs and sharp claws help it grip the trunks. A nocturnal animal, it feeds at night on young shoots and leaves, and spends its day sleeping curled up in a fork of the tree.
The koala clasps a tree trunk between its forepaws, and then draws its hind legs up together in a series of small rapid jumps in order to ascend a tree.

Koala Communication

Koalas use a range of sounds to communicate with one another over relatively large distances. There is a deep grunting bellow which the male uses to signify its social and physical position. Males save fighting energy by bellowing their dominance and they also bellow to allow other animals to accurately locate the position of the caller. Females do not bellow as often as males, but their calls too are used to express aggression as well as being part of sexual behaviour, often giving the impression of fighting. Mothers and babies make soft clicking, squeaking sounds and gentle humming or murmering sounds to one another, as well as gentle grunts to signal displeasure or annoyance. All koalas share one common call which is elicited by fear. It is a sickening cry like a baby screaming and is made by animals under stress. It is often accompanied by shaking. Koalas also communicate by marking their trees with their scent.

Koala Breeding

Koalas mate between December and March. A single baby is born 35 days later. It is blind, hairless, and only 3/4 inch long. By instinct, it drags itself into its mother's pouch, which opens to the rear rather than to the front as with most other marsupials.
Inside the pouch, the baby koala feeds first on mother's milk and later on half-digested food passed through the mother's rectum.
After six months, the young koala leaves the pouch and clings to its mother's back, remaining with her until the following mating season. It then moves to another tree and lives independently for two to four years until it is sexually mature.

Koala Food & Feeding

During the course of its evolution, the koala has developed special cheek pouches that store food and a digestive system to handle a diet consisting entirely of eucalyptus leaves. Of the more than 100 species of eucalyptus tree that grow in Australia, the koala feeds on only twelve.
Koalas eat between one and two bounds of leaves daily and can easily exhaust their own food supply. The main difficulty in keeping koalas alive in zoos and sanctuaries is obtaining enough eucalyptus leaves of the right species with which to keep them fed. They cannot survive without eucalyptus.

Koala Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: 24 inches
              Weight: Males, up to 26 lb. Female, 17 lb
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: Males, 3-4 years. Female, 2-3 years
             Mating: December to March
             Gestation: 25-35 days
             Number of young: 1
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Solitary tree-dweller, except during mating
            Diet: Eucalyptus leaves
            Lifespan: 15-20 years

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The koala never drinks because it gets all the liquid it needs from eucalyptus leaves. "Koala" is the aborigine word for "no water".
  • The koala is an excellent swimmer, crossing rivers in order to survive heavy flooding.
  • Ironically, many koalas are killed in sanctuaries by being run over by cars belonging to visitors.
  • A newborn koala is only the size of a lima bean. Its hind legs are barely formed, but its forelimbs and claws are relatively well developed. It drags itself to the pouch following a trail of saliva laid down by its mother.
  • Koala bears are marsupials, not bears—which means they can carry their young in a pouch (like the kangaroo).

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