25 Interesting Facts About Koalas

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

This article contains 25 interesting facts about koalas. Let’s find out about koalas:

What is a Koala?

The koala, or the koala bear, is also known as the Phascolarctos cinereus. It is the only animal that belongs to the Phascolarctidae family. The wombat is the koala’s nearest living relative.

It is a native Australian arboreal (tree-dwelling) herbivorous marsupial. The number of koalas is roughly 300,000 mature individuals in the wild. This tree-climbing species is a marsupial or a mammal with a pouch for the development of the young. 

Underdeveloped newborns, or marsupials, migrate to these pouches as soon as they are born, where they can continue to eat and grow over the next few months. The koala’s pouch extends outward toward its hind legs, unlike the pouches of many marsupials, which open upward toward their heads.

What does Koala look like?

Koalas live in trees and has a lot of characteristics that make a living in trees easier. Its body is slim, and its front and rear limbs are long, strong, and equipped with huge, sharp claws to help it hold tree trunks. The bottoms of its feet and hands are covered with rough skin, which helps it climb by creating friction. The koala’s front paws have five toes, two of which are opposable. Its hind paws contain one opposable digit (thumb) without a claw, and its second and third digits join to form a single, double claw for combing its fur.

25 Interesting Facts About Koalas
25 Interesting Facts About Koalas

Koalas have fuzzy fur that more closely resembles the coarse wool of sheep. On its rump, where it sits on trees, its fur is thicker to act as a cushion. This fur works as a “raincoat” to keep koala dry when it rains and shields it from the extremes of both high and cold temperatures. The colour of the fur ranges from light grey to brown. 

Koalas have white patches of fur within their ears, chin, chest, and neck, inside their front limbs, and sometimes on the backs of their rear limbs and rump. The fur of koalas in the south is often thicker, darker, and occasionally even browner than that of koalas in the north.

Only koalas from other animals have unique fingerprints similar to those of people. According to a scientific study, is found some similarities when analysing human and koala fingerprints. The fingerprints of koalas can be easily distinguished from those of humans. Each koala has a distinct fingerprint from the others.

One of the koala’s most distinguishing features is its extraordinarily huge, leathery nose to identify the eucalyptus leaves with the lowest levels of toxins and select the healthiest, most nutrient-dense leaves. To distinguish between different toxin levels in eucalyptus leaves and to determine the degrees of toxicity in the leaves at any given time, koalas rely on their highly developed sense of smell. Additionally, they must smell the scent signals placed on trees by other Koalas.

Koalas rely primarily on their other senses because they have weak vision. They can detect predators and other koalas thanks to their fantastic hearing. They have a keen sense of smell, which aids them in spotting their preferred food trees and other koalas.

Koala Size and Weight

Koalas are typically between 4-9 kg and 70- 90 cm long. In general, females are both slightly lighter and slightly smaller than males. Koalas in the south are around 30% bigger than those in the north. Although the koala’s head is big compared to its body and other closely related marsupials, it has a smaller brain (about 0.2% of its body weight).

Koalas Diet

Some researchers have indicated that a smaller brain uses less energy, which could be an adaptation to allow the koala to survive on its low-energy diet. Koalas feed on a variety of eucalyptus tree leaves as well as occasionally, they eat the leaves from some other native Australian trees, such as the lophostemon, melaleuca, and corymbia species. 

Koalas have a unique fibre-digesting organ called a caecum in their intestine pouch. This pouch is about 2 metres long and can digest up to 500 to 1000 grams of leaves daily. In this pouch, symbiotic bacteria break down the tannins and other complex and toxic compounds plentiful in eucalyptus trees. The amount of nutrients in this diet is insufficient.

Koalas can sleep or relax for up to 22 hours daily because their bodies require a lot of energy to digest the gum leaves. They need a lot of energy to break down because they are highly fibrous and undernutrition. Only a very small number of animals can thrive on a diet of gum leaves. 

Koala teeth are particularly suited for their diet of gum leaves. They use their back teeth for cutting and grinding the leaves to extract the most nutrition, while their sharp front teeth clip the leaves from the tree.

Koala Eating
koala bear in the zoo


Koalas are typically solitary creatures that have specific ranges. They try to stay away from conflicts and interactions whenever possible. Numerous females live inside each home range, which is frequently ruled by a single alpha male. These females will mate almost with the dominant male, who will protect them. Females often prefer to mate with the larger male. Males are typically more talkative than females, although mothers will interact verbally with their offspring. Both sexes make a range of noises when they feel discomfort. 

The gestation period for koalas is just 34–36 days. The joey is about one inch long, blind, and hairless at birth. It emerges from the birth canal into the mother’s pouch as soon as it is born. The joey latches to one of the two teats of his mother and stays there for around six months before emerging from the pouch. The joey begins drinking its mother’s protein-rich pap after six to seven months of relying on milk, providing the infant’s gut with the bacteria required for eucalyptus digestion.

The male rubs his chest up and down the tree trunk to brand trees and attract females using a smell gland on his chest. A transparent, greasy, strongly musk-scented liquid flows from the 

 Koala gland

The juvenile koala can no longer fit in its mother’s pouch or receive milk when it is about 12 months old. If the mother reproduces once more, her older joey will leave the nest once its smaller sibling emerges from the pouch. Since female koalas don’t necessarily give birth yearly, the yearling joey might spend more time with its mother. The joey stays close to its mother’s territory after becoming independent. They reach sexual maturity at about two or three years old.

Koala Rib Cage

Koalas dislike being lifted (picked up), contrary to popular belief that they lack rib cages. They have rib cages to shield their internal organs. They may find it more comfortable to sit on branches and in tree forks because of their curved spine and cartilaginous pad over the end of the spine. 

However, unlike most marsupials and primates, including humans, who have 13 thoracic vertebrae and 13 pairs of ribs, koalas only have 11 pairs, making them the smallest known marsupial species.

Koalas Habitats

Due to the lack of rain on the continent, 70% of Australia is either arid or semi-arid territory. As a result, most of the nation’s distinctive fauna, including koalas, has had to adjust to living in dry conditions. They inhabit vast woodlands and forests frequently dominated by eucalyptus tree species. 

Koalas can be found in eucalyptus woodlands close to water sources, like streams and creeks, in inland regions. Due to their unique status, koalas are only found in Australia’s southeast and east, specifically along the coasts of Queensland, New South Wales, and South Australia. 

Facts about Koalas for Kids
Facts about Koalas for Kids

Koalas Lifespan

The lifespan and physical characteristics of koalas might vary between sexes. Females of this species can live up to 15 years, while male koalas typically only live up to 12 years.

25 Interesting Facts About Koalas

  1. Koala-like animal fossils were discovered dating back 25–40 million years.
  2. Most mammals have 13 pairs of ribs; however, the koala only has 11.
  3. Koalas live in trees and are known as arboreal creatures. Also, they go down to the ground to migrate between trees.
  4. It’s common to refer to the male Koala as a “buck” and the female as a “doe.”
  5. The koala has a lower body temperature than other mammals (about 36.6 C). For comparison purposes, a cat or dog should have a healthy body temperature between (37.8 to 39.2 C).
  6. Koalas can swim, but they can easily drown if they can’t get out of a pool.
  7. The koala does not have an external tail that is visible.
  8. One of the simplest methods for determining a Koala’s sex is to look for the dark brown scent gland in the centre of the white chest of mature, breeding males. The chest of females and immature pre-breeding males is plain white.
  9. Koalas’ enormous ears provide a high sense of hearing, which is essential for their communication with other Koalas.
  10. Koalas have powerful arms, legs, and claws that are good for climbing trees. 
  11. A Koala’s resting heart rate ranges from 70 to 140 beats per minute, which depend on a range of factors, including the age of the Koala. A Koala has “sinus arrhythmia,” which causes its heart rate and respiration to diverge, which may result in variations in heart rate.
  12. Koalas’ homes depend on the population density and the number of suitable food trees. In southern and central Queensland, these homes range from 1 km to 135 km.
  13. The large smell gland on the adult male koala’s chest makes it easy to differentiate them from mature female koalas, which are significantly smaller and have broader faces and noticeably larger black noses.
  14. Since Koalas are primarily nocturnal creatures. They are typically found fast asleep in a eucalyptus tree during the day. Although they are not exceptionally energetic animals, they move more when it is time for breeding and dispersal season.
  15. A koala spends most of the day sleeping in the treetops. Koalas need to sleep between 18 and 22 hours daily to store their energy since eucalyptus leaves are so poor in nutrition and require a long time to digest.
  16. Koalas need something to hold onto when picked up since their stomach area is sensitive. You shouldn’t pick up koalas under their arms like young children because that will make them feel uncomfortable and insecure.
  17. Each koala has a range of sizes depending on gender, social standing, age, and habitat quality.
  18. Koalas in the Australian bush hardly ever drink water since they get most of their water from eating fresh eucalyptus leaves. Although they don’t frequently drink water in the wild, they can, if necessary, especially during heat waves, bushfires, or droughts.
  19. The loudest sounds of the Australian forest can be heard from koalas, despite their cute look. During sunrise and sunset, male koalas produce deep bellowing or grunting cries that are heard from a distance of several kilometres.
  20. Even though these creatures are protected and not considered endangered, their environment (habitats) is at risk. Unfortunately, homes built by people, drought, and bushfires have destroyed almost 80% of koala habitat.
  21. Female koalas often remain in the area where they were born, whereas male koalas roam.
  22. Similar to a newborn kangaroo, a young koala is referred to as a joey. A koala joey is born when it is the size of a peanut and has no sense of sight or hearing.
  23. Young and female koalas typically emit a slight eucalyptus scent, doubling as a natural insect repellent. The smell of adult male koalas is more pungent.
  24. Koala is one of several Australian creatures whose names come from an Aboriginal language. The word “koala,” which means “no water,” is a Darug word.
  25. Koalas are not well suited to walking on the ground; thus, they move slower when they are on the floor. However, when agitated, koalas may break into a bounding gallop and reach speeds of up to 30 km/h.

If you enjoyed learning about this facinating animal why not check out more fantastic facts about other animals: Ostriches, Land Animals, Sharks, Raccoons, Moon and Sun Bears, Rats, Sheep, Chickens, Cats, Pandas, Monkeys and Whales.

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