- Pets and Animals
Interesting Facts About The Koala
The Koala is one of the many animals you will find in Australia. They are a unique type of mammal for many reasons. They are referred to as Koala Bears however; this is not accurate because they are marsupials. This means they have a pouch to carry their young in whereas a bear does not.
They are also unique in the fact that they are also "arboreal" which means they live mostly in trees. Their diet is mostly made up of eucalyptus leaves, a leaf that is toxic to most mammals. This also sets them apart from the average bear.
These amazing animals are also nocturnal so if you would like to see one you are better off looking for them at night but you will have to be quick. On average, thanks to their Eucalyptus diet which gives them a lower metabolic rate, they will sleep up to 20 hours a day.
By most people who have seen them the Koala is considered cute and cuddly because of their small round bodied shape. They are covered by a soft wool-like fur. This fur is mostly gray on their backs and white on their belly. They also have long white hairs on the tips of their ears. They have very sharp claws and opposable "fingers" which enable them to climb trees and navigate within the trees.
The size of the Koala will depend on which area in Australia you are in. Northern Koalas are on average 27-36 inches long and weigh anywhere from 9 to 20 pounds. Southern Koalas are typically thirty percent larger. Most males are larger than females in both length and weight.
The pouch for their young is located on their belly and where most marsupials have a pouch that opens toward their head the Koalas pouch opens toward their hind legs. This makes it easy for their underdeveloped newborns to get into. Once inside they will stay in the pouch for several months.
Koalas are often found in Australia's eucalyptus forests, low woodlands, and on coastal islands. Though they may live anywhere in Australia; however you will be more likely to find them in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. They are solitary animals and prefer to be alone rather than in large groups. Often, you will find one male alpha Koala and a group of females living together and this group will mate almost exclusively. The male's role is to protect the group from danger and to mate with the females in his group therefore the females rely on male vocalizations to determine how big the male is before becoming a part of his group.
The Koala has the potential to live up to 17 years. However, there are fewer than 100,000 of them still alive and their life expectancy is only on average less than 13 years. This is due to the fact that dogs attack them, they are hit by cars and as a male they often die after getting injured in fights with other male Koalas.
Dogs and people are their primary threat because in a typical year approximately 4,000 koalas are killed yearly. Back in the 1920s the Koala was hunted by people for their fur which made them endangered. Australia as a nation has developed laws to protect these animals however; each Australian state is responsible for the animal's conservation.
Koalas breed yearly and their gestation only lasts for 35 days. When the offspring is born, it is very small. It will climb into the mother's pouch and it will continue to eat and grow for five to seven months longer nursing on its mom's two teats and getting milk as their only nutrition. When the joey is about six months old it will also start to consume the mother's protein-rich pap which gives the infant all it needs to be able to eat and digest eucalyptus when it comes out of the pouch.
By one-year-old the infant will no longer fit inside the mother's pouch though it may still continue to stay with her gaining its independence and riding upon her back. Once the mother has bred and the new infant climbs into her pouch, the older sibling will often venture off to be on its own but it will often still stay within the same group until it is old enough to reproduce. This may take two to three years.
If the male of a group is not large enough to become an alpha male, he may never be able to mate successfully with females.