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A unique Australian marsupial, the Koala is one of the country's best-known animals. Its natural habitats are forsest and woodlands of eastern coastal areas from southern Queensland to South Australia.
There is only one species of Koala, known as Phascolarctos cinereus. and it is the only living member of the family Phascolarctidae.
Koalas are active chiefly at night. They live in trees and are excellent climbers. They feed only on the leaves of certain eucalyptus trees. They also obtain the liquids their body requires from the leaves, and they never drink water.
The koala usually breeds every other year. About 35 days after mating the female gives birth to one young, which measures about three-fourths of an inch long and is as thick as a lead pencil. The newborn koala remains in the mother's pouch until it is 6 months old and about 6 inches long. Shortly afterward the fully furred young koala clings to her back to ride around for four or five months. Until it is weaned, the koala may nurse from any female koala in the group, an unusual practice among animals. In all it takes four years for it to become fully-grown, and they may live for 20 years.
The koala has brown eyes and a big black shiny nose. When they are unwell the nose becomes wrinkly and dry. The ears are generally big and fluffy, and it is on their keen sense of hearing and smell that they really depend.
It is a very gentle animal that eats nothing but eucalyptus leaves. It climbs up to get them, preferably at night. It can grasp tree branches easily with its long clawed toes. It sleeps during the day in the top of a eucalyptus tree. The eucalyptus leaves and buds are its only source of food. They have very good teeth which are needed to chew the large quantity of highly fibrous food in their diet. The front teeth are for gripping leaves, the premolars for biting and the molars at the back of the jaws for chewing.
The Koala has a rounded body with dense grey fur covering the back and head, with whitish fur on the underside. Koala fur has the highest insulative factor reported for any marsupial. It is also remarkably waterproof. A healthy koala has soft grey fur with a thicker cream bottom, well padded for sitting on the branches of trees. If they are ill their fur becomes brown and brittle.
Its large, rounded ears are fringed with tufts of white hair and the rose is hairless and leathery in texture. Growing to a height of up to 60 cm and weighing up to 13 kg, the Koala is a fairly large animal. The Koala's existence is spent almost exclusively in trees, as it comes to the ground only to cross from one tree to another when seeking a fresh food supply.
Koalas love to sleepClick thumbnail to view full-size
Is a small Australian animal resembling a teddy bear. For many years people called it a "koala bear". However the bear is a placental mammal and is usually carnivorous. The koala is a marsupial mammal believed to be more closely related to the wombat than to any other animal.
Its slow-moving life in the trees is very sloth-like in nature. The koala is a marsupial (a mammal that has a pouch for carrying its young).
Until the late 1920s the Koala population was in danger of extinction due to hunters who killed Koalas for their fur, and through the clearing of land for human settlement. However, protection laws were introduced.
Its fur is very beautiful. Unfortunately so, because it was highly prized by hunters, and since being struck by a dreadful epidemic up until the start of the last century, it has become quite rare. It is now protected by stringent laws.
The scientific name by whyujuich the koala is known is Phascolarctos cinereus which literally means "ashy coloured pouched bear".
Pears Cyclopaedia, Twenty-Ninth Edition, Page 210, 1926.
The World Book Encyclopaedia, J-K, Volume 11, 1978
The Angus & Robertson Concise Australian Encyclopaedia, Second Edition, 1986
Merit Students Encyclopedia, Volume 10, P.F. Collier Inc, 1979. Page 433.
Animal Secrets, Georgette Barthelemy, Lansdowne 1974. Page 22.
The Koala, Koala Preservation Society of NSW Inc. 1987. Page 14.