Many people see koalas as cute and cuddly furry animals. But beyond their adorable and giggly features, this Australian native marsupial has fascinating facets most of us are not aware of. Here are 13 weird or interesting facts about koalas to make you love them even more.
1. Koalas don’t drink water.
Although they do drink some water, koalas aren’t highly dependent on this resource. In the Aborigine language, the word “koala” actually means no water. They get their needed water and sustenance from eating eucalyptus leaves.
2. Koalas are nocturnal.
Koalas are known for coming out once the sun goes down. They are most active at night. During the day, they sleep for 22 hours and live a sedentary life. They are not too active.
3. They are big eaters.
A koala eats more leaves than their body needs. They are not active enough to burn off all of the food that they consume; this is the reason why they sleep many hours, so they can store enough energy to digest the gum leaves, according to the Australian Koala Foundation. Adult koalas eat up to 500 grams of leaves on a daily basis. Once they are full, some of the leaves are stored in their pouches or even their cheeks so they can eat it later.
4. They are great swimmers.
Even though the koala is known for hanging out in the trees, they are excellent swimmers. They can swim across a river without getting tired. Many people have never heard of a koala coming down for a dip in the water.
5. Baby koalas aren’t cute.
When koala joeys are born, they are not exactly what a person would call cute. They have no hair and are around the size of a single bean. During the first six months, the joey lives in its mother’s pouch. In the next three months, it clings to its mother’s fur when it’s awake, then goes back to the pouch to sleep.
6. They have five fingers.
Koalas have five fingers, which help them get a good grip on tree branches and make it easier for them to grab their food. The second and the third fingers on their back paws are fused together. Koalas use those extra fingers to groom themselves and keep their bodies clean.
7. They are territorial.
These creatures claim their own territory as they become adults. The adult male koala has a gland located on its chest that is responsible for producing a dark and sticky substance. This secretion is rubbed onto the trees to tell others that certain area is his territory.
8. Koalas differ in maturity.
The male and the female koala mature at different times. By the time the female is two years old, she is considered to be fully matured. Male koalas, on the other hand, take three to four years to reach their maturity.
9. Koalas are picky eaters.
And they have the reputation of being the pickiest among all the marsupials. While there are over 600 different types of eucalyptus plants or gum tree, koalas only eat three to four eucalyptus species. They tend to make these choices by the leaves that are available in their immediate area.
10. They have a weird taste.
Did that sound absurd? Apparently, it is true. The koala will eat some interesting things. One of them is eating dirt to help them digest the eucalyptus leaves they have devoured.
11. They live longer than we think.
On average, koalas live 12 to 16 years. But in most cases, female koalas have a longer lifespan than males. The former can live up to 16 years or more, while the latter can only survive up to 16 years and usually dies when they reach their maximum age.
12. Koalas are born blind.
When a koala joey is born, it can’t see anything. That is one of the reasons why they hide in their mother’s pouch until their eyes and sense of sight develop.
13. They have a declining population.
Every year, the population of wild koalas decreases. There are only around 8,000 of them that are left in the wild. Even with this low number, they are not yet considered as an endangered species. In Australia alone, the population has decreased by as much as 90 percent because the trees in the forests are being cut down.
Those are some of the little-known facts about koalas. While many people think they are just cute to look at, there is so much more to this species. The most important thing to remember is the last fact—their declining population. If we want our future generations to see koalas thrive, then we must do our part to protect these koalas and keep them from harm’s way.
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Maria Belle Faula is a single parent to a 6-year-old daughter. She is a stay-at-home working mom. She manages the Cost Freak and writes its content. Her website provides updated prices of products and costs of services.