Facts About Koalas

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Koala bears are not bears but marsupials found only in Australia. Koalas migrated to Australia when the Earth was a land mass, and they faced migration constraints when Australia subsequently became an isolated continent. Koalas’ distinctive feature is their pouch in which they carry their young. The scientific name for koalas is Phascolarctos cinereus, meaning “pouch bear” in Greek and cinereus, meaning “ash-color” in Latin.

Fact 1. It is postulated that koalas descended from terrestrial wombats. Koala fossils have been found in Northern Australia dating 20 million years ago. The koala has taken on a similar ecological role to that of the South American sloth.

Fact 2.   When eucalyptus forests started growing due to climate changes, the koala changed its diet from tropical forests’ leaves to that of the eucalyptus leaves.

Fact 3.    The koala’s main habitat is the eucalyptus tree, and their main diet is the eucalyptus leaf. They are capable of consuming up to two and one-half pounds of leaves a day.

Fact 4.  The koala is typified as having an unusually small brain with a large proportion of the cranium filled with fluid. It is the only Earth animal to possess such a reduced-sized brain.

Fact 5.  The word ‘œkoala’ originates from the Australian aboriginal language Dharuk, known as gula. In New South Wales, they are known as cullawines, koolahs, karbors, or bangaroos.

Fact 6. The koala is not found in Tasmania or Western Australia.

Fact 7.  Contrary to popular Western views, koalas can be dangerous to humans especially when prodded. Koalas that are disturbed can become violent. Their teeth and claws are capable of injuring live creatures.

Fact 8.   Koalas sleep for 18 hours a day tucked into the branch of a eucalyptus tree. They have a very low metabolic rate for a mammal and are motionless most of the time.

Fact 9. A baby koala is about a quarter of an inch long at birth. It crawls into its mother’s pouch and remains there for six months. The mother’s belly is enclosed with drawstring muscles that can be tightened at will.

Fact 10. The diet of infant koalas is contained of soft feces called pap passed on by the mothers. Pap contains bacteria that are essential digestive aids for the baby koalas.

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