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Do Koalas Bite?

Updated on April 17, 2016

Mother Koala with Baby

A mother Koala with her 'joey'
A mother Koala with her 'joey' | Source

Do Koalas Bite?

Koala's are generally placid creatures and lounge around endlessly in the forks of their favourite Australian eucalyptus trees. There are many photo opportunities to be had with Koalas in various Zoos around the country, and this is a great way to see how calm and cuddly they are. Koalas will not generally bite unless faced with serious injury or death.

Contrary to popular opinion the Koala is not a bear. For some reason the term ‘koala bear’ became popular in the 1950’s and stuck with the poor misrepresented Koala for many years. So much so, that it has been difficult to shake the tag of 'Koala Bear'.

It is interesting to not that the name Koala actually comes from the Aboriginal language meaning ‘no drink’. The Koala derives the moisture it needs to survive, only from gum leaves (from the eucalyptus tree). This is the only moisture it needs on a daily basis, unless it becomes ill, or in times of drought when the moisture level in the leaves drops markedly, or under extreme heat conditions such as a bushfire.

Koalas are marsupials. Their young are called ‘joeys’ and are born when only the size of a jellybean. At this stage they are without fur or ears, and are totally blind. With their already strong sense of smell and direction, the babies make their way to the mothers pouch and attach themselves to the mother’s teat which then swells to ensure that the baby remains connected to the food source. The mother also contracts the muscles of the pouch to make sure the baby doesn’t fall out.

Adult Koalas range from 6 – 14 kilos with the larger animals tending to inhabit the Southern areas of Australia. They are light grey to brown in colour and most have white patches of fur on various parts of their body including their chest, under the chin, under arms and legs and in their ears.

Do all Koala's have Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease in humans, however a different strain infects koalas. The strain that affects Koalas can also be spread sexually, and it's causing a major epidemic. Research shows that in some parts of Australia, koala infection rates are as high as 90%.

Do Koalas Drink Water?

Where do Koalas Live?

Koalas are highly territorial and live in communities much like humans do. They are social animals and enjoy interaction with others of the species but also ‘map’ out their own area which will include certain trees. Koalas know which trees belong to which Koala as they are marked with their scent.

There habitat consists of substantial tracks of (mostly) Eucalypt forest which allows them to maintain their communities, and also allows room for expansion as young ones are born and set about establishing their own domain.

The male Koalas can often be heard defending their territories, particularly at night when they are more active. Some females will do the same but not as frequently as the males.

Koalas are known to inhabit areas as far North as the Atherton Tablelands near Cairns in Far North Queensland through to Southern areas of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Do Koala's eat meat?

Koalas are fussy eaters, and they do not eat meat. Even though there is more than 600 different types of Eucalypt tree in Australia, Koalas will only eat from around 50 of them. In addition to this diet, they will occasionally also eat small amounts of tea tree and wattle.

Eucalyptus leaves are actually poisonous to most animals and insects but the Koala has developed their digestive system over many generations to cope with these toxins. It is thought that the koala only eats certain types of gum tree leaves so as not to ingest those with very high toxicity levels.

Do Koalas have a pouch?

As with other marsupials, female koalas do have pouches. Their babies stay in the mothers pouch until they are fully developed. Unlike that other Australian icon, the kangaroo, koala pouches are located towards the bottom of their bodies and open outward, whereas kangaroo pouches open upwards.

Koala Activity

It is rare to see an active Koala during the day in its natural environment. They are mostly nocturnal to take advantage of the cooler weather during the night, however they can be seen moving about in the early morning as the sun rises and late in the afternoon as the sun sets.

Koalas will generally nestle themselves in the fork of a tree branch occasionally moving about to sit in the sun on a cold day or to reposition themselves to catch a cool breeze on a hot day. Koalas will also hang their arms and legs out away from their body as much as possible in an effort to keep cool on extremely hot days.

How Do Koalas Communicate With Each Other?

Koalas communicate with a range of grunting sounds which let others know their proximity to others, their social standing in the community, their level of dominance, and their territory. Males use this form of communication more often than females who are more likely to use soft clicking and murmuring sounds when communicating with their babies. They will also use a quiet grunting noise to teach their young when they are not pleased with their behaviour.

There is one other unmistakable noise that is much like a human baby screaming. Koalas only use this form of communicating when they are hurt, highly distressed or are fearful. Their little bodies will also often shake as if ‘trembling in fear’ at the same time.

Where To See Koalas In Australia

Koala Parks.

In Queensland:

  • Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane
  • Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast
  • Australia Zoo, Beerwah
  • David Fleay’s Wildlife Sanctuary

In Victoria:

  • Melbourne Zoo
  • Healesville Sanctuary
  • Kyabram Fauna Park
  • Phillip Island Nature Park
  • Bimbinbie Wildlife Park
  • Ballarat Wildlife Park

In New South Wales:

  • Taronga Park Zoo
  • Sydney Wildlife World
  • In South Australia:
  • Adelaide Zoo
  • Cleland Wildlife Park

Love Koalas?

What do you think of Koalas?

See results

Please leave a comment if you love Koalas :)

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    • aboutaustralia profile image

      aboutaustralia 6 years ago from Newcastle, New South Wales

      Thanks so much for you kind words Eddy, glad you enjoyed my Koala hub! :) Sharon

    • aboutaustralia profile image

      aboutaustralia 6 years ago from Newcastle, New South Wales

      Thanks Injured lamb, thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Glad you love Koalas too, they are such a unique animal. Take care, Sharon

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Oh how i loved this one and has to have that up up and away plus a bookmark.

      Take Care Ad I will be back over to read many ore of your hubs also.

      Take Care and have a great day.


    • Injured lamb profile image

      Injured lamb 6 years ago

      Thanks for this great and informative hub of Koala , I never see the real Koala, but keep lots of koala toys at home especially in my car...just love them.

    • aboutaustralia profile image

      aboutaustralia 6 years ago from Newcastle, New South Wales

      Hi femme,

      Koalas are beautiful and so cuddly. They hang on pretty tight, so when you do get to hold one, just be wary of their claws.

      They also have a bit of a reputation for wanting to go to the toilet while they are cuddling you, but only if you are a politician! Funny that!

      Say hi to Checkmate for me, he sounds like a real cutie with his little chattering noises.

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by, much appreciated!

      Kind regards, Sharon

    • profile image

      femmeflashpoint 6 years ago

      This was such a wonderful article! I've had a fascination with Koalas since I was little and it's maintained momentum into adulthood. The video was a wonderful inclusion as well!

      I have a tiny marsupial pet named Checkmate. He's a sugar-glider. I've had him since he was weaned and now he's pushing ten years old. He's not as fussy about eating as the koalas are, but I had to do a good amount of research to find out what foods are toxic to him and which are safe.

      He makes a vareity of interesting chatter noises as well. When he's upset, he barks and sounds like a small dog.

      I've never had opportunity to see a koala up close but someday I sure hope to.

      Thanks for sharing!


    • aboutaustralia profile image

      aboutaustralia 6 years ago from Newcastle, New South Wales

      Hi freecampingaussie.

      They are certainly elusive little creatures. I saw one many years ago on the road near Booti Booti National Park NSW. Man, do they move SLOW!

      We're hoping to get up North one day and check out those crocs (from a distance of course!) Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment :)

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 6 years ago from Southern Spain

      On our trip around Australia we haven't seen a single Koala in the wild yet . Have seen kangaroos, Emu's. bandicoots, crocodiles, frogs more crocodiles !