25 Interesting Facts About Koalas

  1. Koala is a marsupial (mammal with a pouch) animal endemic to Australia. Their closest relatives are wombatskangaroos, wallabies, and opossums.
  2. Koalas have human-like fingerprints. They are the only non-primate animals to possess this feature. (Source)
  3. Koalas have one of the smallest brains to body ratios among mammals. Koala’s brain is just 60% of its total skull cavity. This tiny brain assists the animal in conserving energy and surviving extreme droughts. The area between the brain and skull is filled with a special fluid that protects the koala’s head in case of head injury.
  4. The average age for koalas is 12 years in the wild and 16 years in captivity. The oldest koala in captivity died at 23 years in 2001. (Source)
  5. The fossil record shows that koala-like animals initially appeared in Australia around 25 million years ago.
  6. The koala is the sleepiest animal in the world. It sleeps for 20 to 22 hours a day. They awake only to eat food. (Source)
  7. Koalas usually suffer from sexually transmitted bacteria, Chlamydia. About half of koalas of both genders suffer infection from this pathogen, which can cause blindness, infertility, and other diseases. This bacterium is a bigger threat to koalas than deforestation, dog attacks, and vehicle accidents. (Source)
  8. Koalas can suffer from KIDS (Koala Immune Deficiency Syndrome). It is similar but less potent to AIDS in humans. It can cause cancers and infections like Chlamydia that can make them infertile. (Source)
  9. In 2016, IUCN revised the status of koalas from “Least Concern” to “Vulnerable,” mainly due to Chlamydia bacteria. According to reports, a retrovirus (koala retrovirus) can protect the animal from this life-threatening bacteria. (Source)
  10. Koalas can sometimes fall from trees. It can result in injuries and deaths, particularly for baby koalas. (Source)
  11. The size of koalas is between 24 and 33 inches. They can weigh up to 14 kg (31 pounds). Koalas in Queensland are smaller than koalas in other parts of Australia (Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia).
  12. More than 8 million koalas were killed between 1888 and 1927 for the fur trade. It included the termination of 800,000 animals in just one month in 1927 in Queensland. Koala’s fur is waterproof, which makes it suitable for hats and gloves. The current estimated number of koalas in the wild is around 87,000. (Source)
    Koala's fur
    Millions of koalas perished due to fur trade
  13. Koala’s fur can reflect solar radiation. The fur of a koala is comparable to a polar bear’s fur in this aspect. (Source)
  14. Koalas spend up to 22 hours a day on trees. They climb trees like monkeys instead of other marsupials. However, they can run on the ground at 6 mph, four times faster than their climbing speed. (Source)
  15. During the summer season, koalas move to lower and cooler parts of trees. They also hug trees to keep their bodies cool. (Source)
  16. Brown-headed honeyeaters live in a few areas inhabited by koalas. These small birds play a vital role in pollinating several eucalypt flowers. They use koalas’ hair (fur) for building their nests.
  17. Koala is one of few animals with the primary diet of eucalyptus leaves. These plants are fibrous, less nutritious, and poisonous. Koala’s digestive system can detoxify chemicals in these leaves, while an extraordinarily long caecum can digest 25% of the fiber in the diet. A koala eats between 200 to 500 grams of leaves daily. (Source)
  18. A scent gland is in the middle of a male koala’s chest. The koala secrets an oily substance with a strong smell through this gland. This scent is used as a marker on trees for other koalas.
  19. Adult male koalas are larger than female koalas, having a broader face and a larger black nose. Another distinguishing feature is a large scent gland on their chest. Female koalas have a backward-facing pouch.
  20. Young koalas only drink their mother’s milk for the first six to seven months after birth. The joey remains in the pouch during this period. From the 22nd to 30th week, the young will also drink a semi-liquid substance known as “pap.” The pap contains micro-organisms that assist the joey in the digestion of eucalyptus leaves. 
  21. Dingoes, owls, eagles, pythons, and foxes are the main predators of koalas. These mammals also face threats from habitat loss, bush fires, vehicles, dogs, diseases, etc.
  22. Koala babies are born without ears, eyesight, and hair. They live in the mother’s pouch for the first six months after birth. (Source)
  23. Koalas have poor eyesight. They use their strong hearing and sense of smell to detect predators and find food.
  24. Homosexual behavior has been seen in female koalas in captivity. There is no record of such behavior of koalas in the wild. (Source)
  25. There are three subspecies of koalas according to their geographical distribution. These are Northern Koalas, Intermediate Koalas, and Southern Koalas. These classifications are based on their different sizes and thickness of fur.


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