Tuesday 12 June 2018

Mammals: KOALAS


Koalas are mammals commonly classified as marsupials. 
A marsupial is a type of animal that has a pouch for the young to be carried around in. 

The Koala is the only member of the Phascolarctidae family. The Koala’s scientific name Phascolarctos cinereus means ‘ash-coloured pouched bear’

Koala’s Characteristics
            Koalas have soft, wool-like gray to brown colored fur. They have a white underbelly and patches of white under their chins and a fringe of white around their ears. They have a large, round head with large, round, furry ears, a large nose and long strong limbs with sharp claws. They have a small tail, hidden by their fur.

           They have very small eyes and a very large nose. This larger nose is one of their dominant characteristics that people immediately notice about them. They have an amazing sense of smell with that nose!
           They have front limbs that are much longer than the back ones. They have powerful claws and opposable thumbs that allow them to easily grip as well as to climb.
            Koalas reach a maximum length of about 24 – 34 inches (60 – 85cm). An adult male koala can weigh between 17 – 30 pounds and a female between 13 – 25 pounds. They have a life span of between 12 and 15 years. The males are larger than the females.

Koala’s Diet

Koalas are herbivores and feed on eucalyptus leaves, especially at night. They do not drink much water and they get most of their moisture from these leaves.

Although the leaves are poisonous to most animals, they have special bacteria that live in their stomachs to break down and digest them. Their diet includes up to one pound of leaves a day. Eucalyptus leaves are high in fiber and low in nutrients. Koalas are able to survive on their diet since they have a slow metabolic system to conserve nutrients and energy. They don't get many calories from their diet, but conserve energy by moving occasionally and sleeping as much as 20 hours each day.
Koala and Eucalyptus leaves

Baby Koala
            A newborn koala is called a joey and is only the size of a broad bean, blind and hairless. A koala mother usually gives birth to one joey at a time. Upon birth the joey makes its way to the mother’s pouch and attaches itself inside. It then develops its eyes, legs, and fur. In fact it lives in the mother’s pouch for about six months. When it emerges from the pouch it takes on the familiar cute and cuddly appearance of an adult.
Eventually the baby koala transfers itself to the mother’s back to hitch a free ride. It continues to nurse off the mother’s milk for up to a year and eats eucalyptus leaves. 


Fun Facts 

  • Koalas are not bears. They are MARSUPIALS
  • Koalas have sharp claws which help them climb trees.
  • Outside of breeding seasons, koalas are quiet animals.
  • Koalas eat eucalyptus leaves and almost nothing else. 
  • Koalas Sleep 20 Hours a Day 
  • The koala can run as fast as a rabbit.
  • Koalas have similar fingerprints to humans.
  • Koalas are mostly NOCTURNAL animals. This means that they sleep in the daytime, and move around and feed at night. 
  • Koalas also communicate with each other by making a noise like a snore and then a belch, known as a "bellow".   

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