7 Things You May Not Know About Koalas
How much do you know 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.
- Do you love a good snooze? As do koalas! Koalas can spend up to 18 hours a day sleeping in the branches. The rest of their day is spent eating.
- 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.
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.