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Koala (Phascolarctos Cinereus): Their scientific name was given by Europeans and means ‘ash gray pouched bear’ but the koala is not related to the bear family at all. They are warm-blooded marsupials. Like the wombat, their pouch opens towards their hind legs.

Although there is only one species Koala; Koalas can look quite different depending on the climate they live in. Southern Koalas (found in South Australia and Victoria) have are larger, fluffier and darker fur than Northern Koalas (found in New South Wales and Queensland) due to the cooler climate they live in.

Koalas are arboreal (tree inhabitants). They primarily eat the leaves of about 50 of the 700+ species of eucalyptus trees in Australia. Eucalyptus leaves contain 50% water and 5% sugars and starches. Eucalyptus leaves would be poisonous to most animals but Koala’s have a bacterium in their stomach that breaks the leaves down. Koalas eat so much eucalyptus leaves that they smell like them.

The eucalyptus leaves they eat provide them with the water they need, they very rarely have the need to drink water.


Koalas have rough pads and sharp claws to climb trees. They have two opposable digits on their front paw and one claw on the hind paw and also fused digits for grooming on their hind paw. Like people, Koalas have fingerprints.

A koala can weigh 6.8-9kgs (15-20lbs) and is about 50-89cms (25-35ins) long. Females are smaller than males.

When born the usual single Joey weighs less than 3.5gms (1/5 of an ounce). They are pink and furless, he or she won’t come out of the pouch for 6 to 7 months. Koalas live to be 8 to 10 years of age. They have strong arms and legs with opposable thumbs on their hands for gripping. Both feet and hands have thick rough pads and long claws.

Koala’s have a thick woolly fur. It protects them from temperature extremes and repels moisture when it rains. The koala does not have an external tail. Their bottom fur is padded to make sitting comfortable and speckled which makes them harder to spot from below. They descend a tree bottom first.


When afraid, Koala’s cries like a baby screaming. Mothers and babies make soft clicking and squeaking sounds. They also may hum or murmur and grunt. All koalas make an inhaling sound like a snore called a ‘bellow’.

Koala’s sleep about 18 to 19 hours a day and are mostly nocturnal animals.

Male Koala’s do not like the company of others, especially other males. They live alone and often fight over their territory. They mark their trees for their territory by leaving their scent on the tree. They rub their chest scent glands on the tree.

The word koala is aboriginal for ‘no drink’. Koala gets the water they need from their food.


A male koala has a scent gland on his chest. It is used to attract females during mating season and to mark territory.

A koala can climb 3030m (150ft) to the top of a tree, then can leap from treetop to treetop.

Koalas have few natural predators. They are usually killed when they come down from trees by domestic dogs or cars and through loss of habitat.

The Koala has many nicknames. Some of which include Koala Bear and New Holland Sloth.

Aborigines called Koalas ‘Cullawines’, ‘Karobors’, ‘Bangaroos’, ‘Cholos’, ‘Koolewongs’ and ‘Narnagoons’.


Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
Australian Koala Foundation.




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