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An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. Koala-in-eucalypt-by-nic-gould_1_ Koala in Eucalypt by Nic Gould

Koala

Phascolarctos cinereus

Appearance

Arboreal (tree-dwelling) marsupial with large furry ears, a prominent black nose and a vestigial tail. Its fur is thick and ash grey, or grey-brown on the dorsal side, with an off-white/pale yellow underside. 

Koalas from Australia’s southern regions are larger than that of their northern counterparts, with head-body length ranging from 72-78cm 

 

Behaviour

  • Feeds almost exclusively on eucalyptus leaves (gum trees) consuming upwards of 400g of leaves in a day. 
  • Feeds in the later hours of the day between 5:00pm and 12:00am. They will tend to feed in 20 minute increments and on average move between trees once a day, generally feeding in every tree that they occupy. 
  • Reaches sexual maturity around 2 years old
  • Breeding season is usually August-February. 
  • Generally a solitary animal but in areas of high density there is a male dominance hierarchy. 
  • Female gestation is about 35 days with females giving birth to one small young. 
  • Joeys develop in their mother's pouches, fully emerging at nine months and becoming independent at one year. 

What to Observe

  • Presence 
  • Courting or mating
  • Young in pouch
  • Young on mother’s back

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

The effects of climate change are expected to contract the Koala’s range eastward. In Victoria, dramatic increases in temperatures, drought and fire are expected to reduce the range of the Koala by 20-30% by 2030. 

A shift in climate will also dramatically degrade and fragment the native habitat of Koalas, putting populations under a significant amount of stress. 

Help scientists answer the question: "How are our animals, plants and ecosystems responding to climate change?"

 

When To Look

Koalas can be found year-round however they are most active at dawn and dusk where they can be observed feeding.  Breeding season is usually August-February

Keep an eye out for young Koalas (joeys) during spring through to autumn months.

Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes in the timing of these events so remember to keep a lookout all year!

 

Where To Look

Koalas can be found in NSW, SA, VIC and QLD year-round. Widespread in coastal and inland areas, with a range that extends over one million square kilometres. Koalas naturally inhabit a range of varying woodland and forest communities dominated by Eucalyptus species.  Look up! Koalas are an arboreal (tree-dwelling) marsupial where they like to live most of their lives. 

Sightings

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  1. Did You Know?

    Koalas are sexually dimorphic with females generally being 50% smaller than males. 

    Koalas rely on a multitude of behavioural, physical and anatomical adaptations to survive on their poor quality and potentially toxic diet of eucalyptus leaves. 

    The only animals aside from humans that have the same types of fingerprints are gorillas, chimpanzees and koalas.