You may know that it comes from Australia, but what you may be
surprised to discover is the fact that the Koala is not a bear,
but like its Australian counterpart the Kangaroo is in fact a marsupial.
In fact, the only reason the Koala is referred to as “koala bear” is
because it resembles the adorable little teddy bears that are known
for being cute and cuddly. Not only are koalas not bears, they also
don’t have a reputation for being cuddly, though everyone admits they
are extremely cute.
Koalas (scientific name: Phascolarctos cinereus) are so strongly reminiscent of bears
that they are commoncly called "koala bears".
As an arboreal marsupial , the Koala’s body is very similar to that of
the wombat. Like kangaroos and wombats, Koala Bears carry their young in
Their babies are called joeys (like kangaroos) and the koala babies
remain in the Koala’s pouch for up to six months. What is amazing is that
when the new Koala Bear, or Joey is born, he or she only measures a
quarter of an inch long!
When the Joey begins the journey to the mother’s
pouch they have no fur, are blind, and have no ears. They grow and
develop over the next six months and drink only their mother’s milk.
Once the Joey reaches approximately six months of age, they will begin
to leave the pouch. However, Koala Bears remain closely bonded with
their mothers, often riding on their backs until they are twelve months
Austalian Koala picture
Koalas are native to Australia and are not indigenous to any other regions.
Interestingly, the Koala is not found in Western Australia nor is it
found in Tasmania.
Not only are they herbivores, but also their diet
consists mainly of Eucalyptus leaves. They have very slow digestive
systems and due to this they are a very slow moving animal. The Koala
sleeps up to nineteen hours per day, the remaining five hours is spent
eating and gathering food.
In some aspects, Koala Bears are very similar to humans.
They have fingerprints, that when looked at under the microscope,
are nearly indistinguishable from human fingerprints. Additionally,
Koalas live in societal groups. They stay in groups and from lasting
relationships with other members of their community. What is very
interesting to note, is that within these societies, Koalas become very
territorial and institute a home range.
A home range is the Koala’s
territory and includes a specific location including trees.
have their own individual trees, though some home range boundaries
overlap with other Koalas and they live harmoniously with one another.
Within the Koala community, the Koala bear may mark their trees with
scent and they also spend a great deal of time communicating. Mothers
and young communicate by making clicking or humming noises, however there
is one sound that all Koalas make.
It is a high piercing shriek that
signals warning or distress. Many people liken the sound to that of a
baby crying or screaming.
Koalas rely heavily upon the Eucalyptus tree; therefore,
they are threatened when the Eucalypt Forest is harvested. Currently,
nearly eighty percent of the Eucalypt Forest has been destroyed and of
the remaining twenty percent, none is protected by the government.
In fact,most of the Eucalypt Forest is privately owned land. Harvesting combined
with forest fires and disease places the Koala Bear at great risk.
Therefore it is very important that steps are taken to ensure that the
Koala is protected and that conservation ensures the native Eucalypt
Forest is preserved.