Koala [ Phascolarctos cinereus ]. Ashley. Contents . What is a Koala? What does it look like? Where are they found? Habitat Diet Breeding Issues they face? Reference Page. What is a Koala? .
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A koala is a small bear-like marsupial. Its fur is thick and usually is ash grey with a tinge of brown. Koala is an ancient Aboriginal word meaning ‘No Drink’. The koala is listed on the ‘Vulnerable Species’ list.
Koalas come in different sizes and colours. Their size and colour depends on where they live. The koalas found in New South Wales and Victoria are slightly larger and darker than those in Queensland. This is because of the different temperatures. The most notable physical feature of the Koala would have to be its big fluffy ears. They also have very strong forearms and extremely long, sharp claws for climbing. Koalas have a great sense of hearing and smell, which helps them find the best leaves to eat and to hear when predators are coming. Their eyesight is not too good so its hard for them see if predators are coming.
Koalas are found in Queensland , New South Wales , Victoria and South Australia . Their range extends from the Atherton Tableland west of Cairns in Qld to islands off the coast of Victoria and South Australia in the south, and west to central and western Qld, NSW and Victoria.
A Koalas mainly live in Eucalypt forests or on coastal islands, but can be found in woodland areas. They live in societies, so they are able to come into contact with other koalas.
Koala survive on a strictly eucalypt leaves. Eucalyptus leaves are very fibrous and low in nutrition, and to most animals are extremely poisonous. A slow metabolic rate allows koalas to retain food within their digestive system for a relatively long period of time. Each koala eats approximately 200 to 500 grams of leaves per day. Their teeth are designed to help with eating the leaves. Different species of eucalypts grow in different parts of Australia, so a koala in Victoria would have a very different diet from one in Queensland. Koalas sometimes eat from other trees such as wattle or tea tree. They receive over 90% of their hydration from the eucalypt leaves it eats, and only drinks water when sick or there is not enough moisture in the eucalypt leaves.
When a female koala is ready to mate, she will call out to a male by snorting out loud. The female will then give birth 35 days after mating. A new born koala weighs only half a gram and is the size of a kidney bean. It attaches itself to the mothers teat for 13 weeks, opens its eyes at 22 weeks and its grows teeth at 24 weeks. At 7 months old, the baby koala will start taking little naps on its mothers back until it becomes independent at about 12 months old.
The greatest threat to koalas are habitat loss, dog attacks, road trauma, bushfires and disease. When a koala loses their habitat, they become stressed which causes them to catch diseases easily such as cancer, Chlamydia, Koala Retrovirus and Cryptococcus.