Koalas are small and furry, with round ears and beady eyes that remind us of cute bear cubs. But did you know that Koalas aren’t actually bears, but marsupials? That means koalas are unable to survive outside of the womb when they are first born. Baby koalas or “joeys” are born both blind and hairless and tend to look more like little pink maggots than furry cubs. However once they’re born they use their sensitive sense of smell and touch to find and immediately attach themselves to their mother’s teat. They stay on their mother’s back or pouch for the first six months, after which they are officially considered a “newborn” and are able to venture out on their own. It’s at this time that they move from drinking their mother’s milk to eating koalas’ favorite forest treat—the eucalyptus leaves.
While dangerous to most animals, Koalas can’t get enough of these eucalyptus leaves! In fact, they love them so much that they don’t even bother drinking water most of the time as they get moisture straight from the leaves. They use their sharp claws to climb between trees to find the most delicious eucalyptus leaves for dinner. However they don’t provide a lot of diverse nutrition, which is why koalas need to conserve their energy and end up sleeping up to 20 hours a day. All sleep and no play makes Jack a…Koala!
These furry little tree-huggers are idolized for their cute and cuddly demeanor, though Koalas are not particularly social animals. Koalas are nocturnal animals, meaning that their sleep schedule is at direct odds with our own. This need for sleep combined with their low energy food means Koalas can be easily stressed when interacting with loud and excited humans. Which is why it’s best to pick up your pet Koala at the gift shop and not at the nearby forest.
Koalas are native to Eastern Australia where there is an abundance of gum trees for them to call home. Unfortunately, these days a lot of their natural habitat is dwindling due to development plans. That’s why it is more important than ever to look after our sleepy little friends and make sure that their cuteness isn’t lost.