7 things you may not know about koalas
How much do you know about about the koala – one of Australia’s cutest little critters?
- Koalas belong to the Phascolarctidae family – and are the only still-living species that do! Their closest relatives are all fossils, although the wombat is also a very distant relative.
- The species name Phascolarctidae derives from the Greek words for pouch and bear; in fact koalas are not bears at all, but they are marsupials and, like kangaroos, have pouches in which they carry their young.
- The word ‘koala’ comes from an ancient Aboriginal word meaning ‘no drink’. Koalas rarely drink water, but instead take 90% of their hydration from eucalyptus (gum tree) leaves.
- Eucalyptus leaves also provide the koalas’ main food source, despite being poisonous to most other animals. Koalas find a new tree each day, spending around 3 hours eating and up to 18 hours resting and digesting the very fibrous leaves.
- Aside from primates, koalas are the only other members of the animal kingdom that have fingerprints. Like humans, they each have their own unique fingerprints.
- Koalas are endemic to Australia and can be found in the wild throughout Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.
- Female koalas are cougars – they love a toy-boy and usually mate with a younger male!
Koalas are one of the ten species worldwide most at risk from climate change. Join the conservation effort by visiting koalas in the wild on a day trip from Melbourne, helping to remove invasive weeds and plant new koala habitat for future generations.