6 Amazing Facts About ‘Cute’ Koalas
Most people know koalas as being cute and cuddly, but there’s a lot more to them than this. They only live in Australia, making them a unique and interesting animal to learn about.
1. Baby koalas eat their mother’s poop!
Yes, you read that right – baby koalas eat a specially made form of their mother’s excrement, a creamy substance known as ‘pap’. While this might sound gross, it’s actually vital to the koala’s survival – the ‘pap’ contains bacteria which will allow the koala to digest their staple eucalyptus leaves later in life.
2. Koalas’ fingerprints are the same as humans
As with chimps and gorillas, a koala’s fingerprint is almost indistinguishable from a human’s – even under a high-powered microscope! Chimps and gorillas also have fingerprints that are very similar to humans’, but unlike the higher primates, koalas don’t have the same ancestors as us. It’s a great case of convergent evolution.
3. Koalas eat poisonous leaves!
Koalas live in the eucalyptus forests of Australia, which is the only place in the world where these trees grow. Each day koalas eat around 1kg of these leaves! The leaves are poisonous to other animals and difficult to digest, but koalas have an organ called the cecum that stops them from getting ill. They also have cheek pouches to store food they haven’t chewed yet, in case they need to move to a safer place quickly.
4. Koalas are lazy critters
Because it takes so much energy for them to digest their food, koalas will sleep for between 18 and 20 hours every day. They’re also mostly nocturnal, meaning they’re awake at night, rather than during the day.
5. 80% of koalas’ natural habitat has been destroyed
Koalas are losing their homes – up to 80% of the habitat where koalas live has already been destroyed and, even though the koalas themselves are protected by the law, chopping down eucalyptus trees is affecting them badly. The Australian Koala Foundation think between 43,000 and 80,000 koalas are left, making them a vulnerable species, but not endangered.
6. Koalas have opposable thumbs
Koalas live in trees but don’t build nests like birds; the shape of their body (like a pear) gives them extra stability on branches. They also have opposable thumbs like humans, as well as rough patches on their hands and feet. This means they can grip branches easily and climb safely.
The YouTube video playlist below contains videos about koalas. Details of the videos featured are underneath.
- Cute and cuddly! Koala bears eat and then sleep all day long! – BBC wildlife
- Animal rescue – orphaned baby koala bear – BBC wildlife
- Koalas Saved by NationalGeographic
- Koala Hospital by NatGeoWild
- Amazingly cute koala bear in the wild by avrilcadabra
- Cute Adorable cuddly Koala in the wild! by promulgate08