Koalas once lived throughout Australia. Now they are found only in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
They live in eucalyptus forests, coastal islands, and woodlands.
They have soft, wooly, gray fur and weigh about 30 pounds. The koala has feet well-adapted for their life in the trees. Their front paws each have five digits – two of them are thumb-like and opposable. This, along with their long, sharp claws and thick pads, make them perfect for climbing trees. The back paws have only four digits. There is one “big toe” that is opposable like a thumb but with no claw. Of the other three digits, one looks to have once been two, but is now fused with two nails. It is thought to be used for grooming fur. These back paws grip the branches securely so the front paws can be free to pull off eucalyptus leaves for eating. This unique paws structure is an adaptive trait that helps the koala live high up in the trees where they spend half their day feeding on leaves and the other half sleeping. Another physical adaptation is the koala’s thick, wool coat that acts to keep its body cool in hot weather, warm in cold weather and repels water in downpours.
Koalas live alone up in the trees (arboreal). Koalas are active at night (nocturnal), sleeping all day long.
They eat eucalyptus leaves, bark and mistletoe.
Predators are dingoes and large owls.
Koalas have 1 baby per year. Females are pregnant for 35 days (gestation). The koala is a marsupial so carry its young in its pouch. The tiny baby lives in the pouch for about 6 months.
Koalas can live 17 years in the wild. They are listed as Lower Risk - near threatened but there is concern about their future because of habitat destruction.
Species: Phascolarctos cinereus
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Amsel, Sheri. "Koala" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2023. October 1, 2023
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