Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are the most adorable beings. Its long, stocky, tailless body, large head with round, fluffy ears, and spoon-shaped nose make it impossible to miss. Although they look like bears with their round ears and large black nose, they do not belong to the Ursidae family, but to the Phascolarctidae. Furthermore, koalas belong to the Vombatiformes suborder, which they share only with wombats.
In this article you will learn more about where they live, what they eat and many other curious and unique facts about koalas.
They are marsupials
The koala is a marsupial, which means that the females have a pouch in which they protect their young. The young are born without being fully developed and complete their growth in this bag. The fetus weighs about 0.5 grams at birth and enters the marsupial sac after 35 days. A young koala takes its first step out of the pouch around six to seven months after gestation. After this time, they ride on their mother’s back for another six months, using only the bag to feed and rest.
They are endemic to Australia
Koalas are possibly the most famous animal in Australia. Being endemic to Australia, these peculiar mammals are now mainly confined to north-east, central and south-east Queensland, with a smaller distribution in Western Australia.
Their size and weight vary a lot
Despite their small size, these cute animals are quite stocky. Although subspecies have never been recognized, weight and size vary according to sex and whether the animals are found in the north or south of the region. In the north, the average male weighs 6 kilos; the average female weighs 5 kilos. In the south, the average male weighs 11 kilos pounds and the average female weighs 8.5 kilos.
They have fingers, and fingerprints!
Koalas have five toes on their front feet, but the first two are mobile, an adaptation that helps them climb, hold onto branches and grab food. The toes on the hind limbs are short and flared, while the toes on the second and third limbs are fused. They also have sharp claws.
They have limbs that resemble those of humans. One of the most intriguing features of koalas is that, like us humans, they have fingerprints. These are different from ours, but we share an interesting characteristic: they are all different from each other.
They have a good sense of hearing and smell
Koalas have poor eyesight, but considering their daily lives, this is not as important as their other senses, which are well-developed. They hear very well, which helps them detect predators and other koalas. Thanks to this sense, they are able to interact and socialize, especially for reproductive purposes. The koala’s large black nose is incredibly well-developed, giving it a keen sense of smell that helps it track other koalas and find their favorite food trees.
His name means “without water”
The koala takes its name from the Australian Aboriginal word “gula”, which means “without water”. For a time it was thought that these marsupials did not need water because they were rarely seen drinking. However, this theory has been shown to be incorrect. They take most of the water they need from the plants they consume, but sometimes they do need to drink water, especially during the summer.