When European settlers first encountered koala bears, they thought these amazing animals were bears or monkeys. Even today, many are inaccurately identifying these animals as bears. Koalas are not bears. The main reason they are called koala bears is that they look like teddy bears. Koalas are marsupial mammals closely related to kangaroos and wombats. Just like other marsupial mammals, female koalas have pouches where their immature young ones can develop further. Koalas have some interesting basic facts you might not have known. So, let me take you through the following facts about these lovely animals.
1. Koalas sleep more than 18 hrs a day
Koalas are said to be lazy since they spend most of their daytime sleeping. In a day, they spend about 18 to 22 hrs sleep. The main reason behind this is the kind of food they take, and their diet has low energy. Therefore making them sluggish also presents toxins in eucalyptus leaves, leading to slow digestion.
2. They share certain characteristics with human beings
Just like humans, koalas have a fingerprint. Moreover, those fingerprints are similar to those of human beings. Hence, it cannot be easy to distinguish between them. Koalas rarely make noise, but they can snore or scream like human beings. Male koalas usually make a loud call that can be heard up to a kilometer away, which normally happens during the breeding season.
3. Their newborns are the size of jelly beans
A joey or newborn koala is approximately the size of a jelly bean. In this stage, it is not easy to identify the distinctive features of a koala. Joeys are born blind, without fur, and earless.
4. They live for about a decade
When there is an ideal condition for koalas, a male koala can leave for about ten years. For females, the life expectancy is slightly higher, a total of 12 years. In 12 years, the female koala can produce a total of 5 to 6 years. Koalas that stay in a less suitable environment, for example, near housing or highway development, their life expectancy is about two to three years. This is according to AKF.
5. Koalas hold food in their belly for over eight days
Koalas mainly consume eucalyptus leaves. Research shows that koalas ferment part of their food in the gut to obtain more energy from this diet. The fermentation doesn’t occur in the stomach but in the organs succeeding the small intestines.
6. They are vulnerable to extinction
Due to factors like the rate of urbanization, droughts, forest fires, and deforestation, the habitat of these cute animals is quickly disappearing. This has made the animals vulnerable to dog attacks, chlamydia, and vehicle strikes. Hopefully, the conservation plans implemented in Australia will control the extinction of these animals.
7. They are fussy eaters
Eucalyptus being the main diet of koalas, they consume up to 1 kilogram of food daily. Eucalyptus is poisonous to several animals. Impressively, koalas have a special organ called the caecum for detoxifying the chemicals in eucalyptus leaves. Koalas are picky eaters, and they don’t consume less than 50 species out of at least 700 species of the eucalyptus plant. These animals prefer leaves from the highest points of tallest trees due to more nutrients and liquid.
8. Koalas hug trees to keep cold
With the use of thermal cameras, Scientists discovered that koalas hung in trees to keep cold. If it’s warm, koalas would migrate to lower parts of trees and then press themselves towards the tree trunks.