By Samantha Graham 2012
The Koala is usually recognised by its fluffy little body and cute innocent looking face. Native to Australia it resides only in certain areas of Australia.
The Koala is not a bear, but thought to be mistaken as one by the European settlers in the late 1800’s. In fact its closest relative is the wombat, also native to Australia.
The koala resides in Southern Australia up and along the east coast of Australia as far north as Cape York peninsula. Interestingly there are no koala’s in Western Australia, Northern Territory or Tasmania. The Koala’s in the south are generally much larger than those in the North. They tend to have thicker coats of fur to keep them warm in the cool winters. The Queensland koalas tend to be smaller with less fur.
The staple diet of the Koala is Eucalyptus leaves which may grow in the tall gum trees of Australia or low lying Eucalyptus plants. There are many different varieties of Eucalyptus of which only several will the koala feed on. The leaves are hard to chew, high in fibre and low in protein. Along with a low metabolic rate the koala must conserve energy and does this by sleeping up to 19 hours a day. When awake 3 of the 5 hours are spent eating.
Koalas communicate by bellowing to each other and although appear to be a docile creature, they can be quite vicious.
They have sharp teeth and claws which aid in climbing and chewing the tough diet they require. Rarely do they drink water, although will do so if absolutely necessary.
Breeding time is during the Australian spring/summer from around September to March. A koala can have one pup a year up until around 12 years of age.
Gestation is 35 days, where the tiny pup is born blind and without fur. It makes it way to the rear facing pouch where it feeds off the 2 teats for the next 6 months. Infants will make their way out of the pouch around 8 months and cling onto its mother’s back. The infant is fully weaned at 12 months.
Koalas can hang out with their mother for around 3 years or until another infant is born.
Unfortunately the koala is in decline, mainly due to urbanisation which has led to the destruction of its habitat. Although the koala is now recognised as ‘vulnerable’ by the Australian government, its habitat is not protected.
For more on the koala or if you are interested in helping to protect the koala or even adopting a koala please visit; http://samnashy.hubpages.com/
Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Samantha_Graham/1341080