facts & figures
Species status information sourced from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Did you know
- Many people believe that Koalas are drunk or ‘high’. Eucalyptus leaves do not make them drunk or high, but instead provide a minimal amount of energy. Koalas therefore sleep for 18-20 hours per day to conserve their energy for the night-time.
- In New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, the Koala is now listed as a Vulnerable species.
Why are they endangered?
- Low genetic diversity
- Habitat destruction
- Predation by feral cats, foxes and dogs
- Road fatalities
One of the most iconic animals known to Australia, Koalas are often mistakenly called the “Koala Bear”. Koalas are not a bear, but are in fact a marsupial. Koalas have thick fur that ranges from very light to very dark grey on the head and body, with white patching on the bottom, chest and ears. They have 5 digits on each hand- 3 work like fingers, and 2 work like thumbs. Koalas also have no claw on their thumb toe, and two toes joined together with separate claws. Koalas have small eyes and a large black nose, and sleep for 18-20 hours a day, primarily waking in the night-time to eat, fight and mate. Males can weigh up to 14kgs, and females up to 10kgs. Koalas have a lifespan of 12-15 years in captivity, and 8-10 years in the wild.
Koalas inhabit Eucalypt forests along the east-coast of Australia. With continual logging occurring throughout their habitats, Koalas are quickly losing territory, shelter and food sources, resulting in displacement and high loss of life.
Koalas feed exclusively on Eucalyptus leaves. They have specially designed gut flora that assists in safe digestion without being affected by the leaves’ toxins. Koalas rarely drink water, attaining their hydration through the Eucalyptus leaves. In times of drought or bushfire Koalas have been known to drink large amounts of water, even venturing into areas populated by humans for water sources.
Social organisation & reproduction
Koalas are fairly solitary animals, but come together for breeding season. A group of koalas living in the same area can be considered a population, with older, stronger males being dominant or alpha-males. Fighting is common, especially between males protecting territory. Males will breed with several females in a breeding season. Females give birth to one jellybean-sized joey, occasionally two- however the occurrence of both surviving is extremely rare. Joeys will develop in the mother’s pouch for 7 months, venturing out when fully developed and riding on their mother’s chest or back. The joey will feed on the mother’s faeces (known as ‘pap’) for 6 weeks to develop the gut flora necessary for digestion. At 12-15 months of age, koala joeys will leave their mother in search of their own territory.