Walk on the wild side with… Koalas

Koala

Image courtesy of Paul Rushworth

Although Koalas are just as cute as bears they are actually more closely related to wombats! Like wombats, koalas are marsupial mammals – that means the female koala carries its young in a pouch.

The name koala comes from the Aboriginal word meaning “no drink” as koalas get over 90% of their water from eucalyptus leaves. Koalas only drink when they are sick or during times of drought when there is insufficient moisture in the leaves they eat.

Koalas have broad, flat heads with large round hairy ears, flat noses, short, stocky bodies, short legs and large feet with very sharp claws. They are covered in thick ash-grey fur with white on their chest, forelimbs and rump. Koalas that live in the cooler southern parts of Australia have a thicker coat of fur. Their bodies are rounded due to the capacity of their large intestines required to digest eucalyptus leaves.

FASCINATING FACT! Koalas spend 20+ hours each day SLEEPING and resing due to the low amount of energy they obtain from their leafy diet. It’s not just laziness!

They are generally more active at night and communicate using loud grunts and squeals.

Koalas are often called fussy eaters as they feed almost entirely on only fifty of the 500+ species of eucalypt leaves. An adult koala will eat up to ONE KILOGRAM of leaves each night. Different species of eucalypts grow in different parts of Australia, so a koala in Victoria would have a very different diet from one in Queensland.

KOALA SPOTTING! These school holidays you can spot Koalas living in many parks including the Great Otway National Park, Mt Eccles National Park, Grampians National Park, Barmah National Park and French Island National Park. Take a photo and send it into the JR gallery!