Koalas

Koalas are living beings with needs, wants and feelings, just like you and I. The koala is a marsupial, or a pouched mammal. Baby koalas live in the pouch for 6 months and then live on their mums back or clinging to her front until it is one year old.  The word ‘Koala’ means ‘no drink’. Whilst Koalas generally rely on their diet to provide them with the water they need, they still can and will drink if it’s really hot or dry.


Koalas are folivores (meaning that they only eat foliage (leaves) and only leaves from some types of gum trees). They really like ‘tip’, the new juicy growth on the ends of the branches as it holds the most nutrients and moisture.

Threats to koala population

The most significant threat to koala populations is habitat loss due to clearing of forests in Australia for urban, industrial and rural development. Loss of habitat results in reduced availability to food and shelter but also stresses the koala. When under stress, koalas are more susceptible to disease that can lead to death.

Another major threat to populations is death due to being hit by cars. In South Australia Fauna Rescue attended incidents that resulted in the deaths of 107 koalas during a 3 month period due to being hit by cars. Koalas are most active between dusk and dawn so encourage your parents to slow down particularly at this time.

Koalas are also vulnerable to attacks by dogs. It is estimated that around 95% of koalas attacked by dogs die from their injuries. This figure may be even higher as many cases of dog attacks are not reported. Any dog weighing more than 7 kilograms is capable of killing a koala, even a dog weighing less can do lots of damage to a Koala. Koalas have very little subcutaneous fat and a bite can go through the lining into the intestines or major organs. This can lead to a slow bleed as the intestines have toxic contents which leak into the cavity and will cause the death of a Koala.

Thank you to Fauna Rescue SA for their kind and knowledgeable advice on which this information is based.

Fun Facts
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When it is hot a koala presses itself to the tree trunk to cool itself down.
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Koalas usually get all of the water they need from the leaves they eat

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Koalas need a lot of space (about 100 trees each). 

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Koalas eat over 1 kilogram of leaves each day.

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Koalas sleep for about 18 hours each day.

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Koala babies are the same size as a jelly bean, blind and hairless.

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Like humans, koalas each have a unique fingerprint.