The Koala is a cuddly stubby little animal with lots of grey fur, a big black nose and large fluffy ears. Its got long arms and short legs with very sharp claws which it uses to cling onto trees and branches. Its hardly got a tail.
It is sometimes called a Koala Bear but it is not a bear at all. Its closest relative is the Wombat.
The Koala lives in eucalyptus trees. it is a very fussy eater. It only eats certain types of eucalyptus leaves. These leaves are low in nutrients and toxic to most other animals. It eats about half a kilogram of leaves each day. The Koala gets most of the water it needs from the leaves it eats and hardly ever drinks water.
Because of its poor diet the Koala has a very low metabolic rate and rests for up to 18 hours a day. It wedges itself in a fork of a tree and sleeps during most of the day. It is usually active in the night. It rarely comes down from the safety of a tree only doing so when it wants to move to another tree.
A baby kola is called a Joey. It is only about a quarter inch long (as big as a bean seed) when it is born. It is born hairless blind and earless. Being a marsupial it has to crawl from the birth canal along its mother’s tummy to the pouch where it attaches itself to a teat. It stays there for about 6 months before emerging from the protection of its mothers pouch. A Joey remains with its mother for about another 6 months feeding on leaves and milk and taking a “piggy back “ ride on its mother’s back as she travels from place to place.
The koala has a very small brain. It occupies only 40% of its cranial cavity and makes up only 0.2% of its body weight (compared to a human’s 1.6%). Scientists believe that the kola’s brain has actually shrunk over evolutionary time as a result of its low energy diet and very sedentary life style
The koala was hunted to near extinction in the early 20th century. Its fur was much sort after in Europe and America at the time. The loss of habitat and urbanisation are the main threats to Koalas today. A disease called Chlamydia has also being effecting them in recent time.
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