Koala J Philipp Krone

Koala

Phascolarctos cinereus

Did You Know?

  • Koalas are sexually dimorphic with females generally being 50% smaller than males
  • The only animals aside from humans that have the same types of fingerprints are gorillas, chimpanzees and koalas
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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.

Size

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

Behaviour

Diet

Feeds almost exclusively on eucalyptus leaves (gum trees) consuming upwards of 400g of leaves in a day, in the later hours of the day between 5 pm - 12 am. 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.

Breeding

Breeding season is usually August-February. They reach sexual maturity around 2 years old. 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.

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What to Observe

  • Presence

  • Courting/Mating

  • Young in pouch

  • Young on mother’s back

Climate Adaptations

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.

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When and Where

When To Look

  • Koalas can be found year round
  • 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

Where To Look

  • In NSW, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland
  • Widespread in coastal and inland areas, with a range that extends over one million square kilometres
  • Woodland and forest communities dominated by Eucalyptus species
  • Look up, they live most of their lives in trees
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What Else?

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