Koalas – by Zoë

Koalas, also known as Phascolarctidae, are a species of marsupial that only live in the eastern area of Australia. Yes, contrary to popular belief, koalas are marsupials, not bears, which means they have a pouch on their belly in which they keep their young. Koalas are given the name koala bear because of their bear-like appearance, even though they are not bears.

How did koalas adapt to their environment over time? Koalas spend the majority of their life in eucalyptus trees and almost never step foot on the ground. They do this because they don’t really have a need to go on the ground given they only eat eucalyptus leaves, which also gives them most of their liquids. That means they don’t need to drink that often. In addition, most of their main predators are on the ground, which really gives them no reason to leave the trees. Koalas also prefer larger trees because larger trees are stronger. 

The Koala’s mating season is December to March, which might sound weird, but that’s because from December to March is summer in Australia. When a Koala is born, it cannot survive outside its mother’s pouch. After seven months in its mother’s pouch, the joey is eating eucalyptus, chewed and partially digested by the mother. By a year old the joey is eating solid eucalyptus leaves and can survive easily outside the mother’s pouch.

Koalas spend most of their day sleeping, then eating and taking care of young. A koala’s young is called a koala joey because it is a marsupial and all marsupial babies are referred to as joeys. For example, a baby kangaroo is called a “kangaroo joey,” a baby wombat is called a “wombat joey,” etc. Wombats are the closest living species to koalas. When a Koala joey gets separated from its mother, the koala joey lets out a small cry, and when its mother hears the unique cry she will come to collect the koala joey.

The koalas are not the smartest animals, given their brain is only 0.2 percent of their body weight. Koalas have something called a smooth brain, which basically means they lack a higher level of cognition.

The thickness of a koala’s fur depends on where the koala lives. if the koala lives in the more northern areas, it’s going to have thicker fur. Queensland koalas live in the north, which makes their fur thicker, whereas Victorian koalas live in the more southern areas of Australia, which makes their fur thinner. Victorian koalas are also double the weight of Queensland koalas and male koalas are 50 percent bigger than female koalas.

So back to that question, how did Koalas adapt to their environment over time? Well, they’ve adapted to their environment in many different ways, but I think we can all agree they are our favorite eucalyptus-eating NOT bears from Australia.