| Although sometimes known as the native bear, the koala is in fact no relation to the bear family.
The koala is a nocturnal, tree dwelling marsupial mammal,
which feeds almost exclusively on the leaves of a few
species of eucalypt.
Koala babies are only about 19mm when born, but they can
still climb into mother's warm pouch, where they stay
for about five to six months, after which time they spend
another three to four months clinging to her back with
their strong claws while she travels from tree to tree
or when she is resting, cuddled up in her arms.
Koalas are very fussy eaters, feeding almost entirely
on eucalypt leaves. Koalas seldom drink, as they obtain
enough water from the diet of leaves.
The Koala sleeps in the fork of a tree for most of the
day and moves about and feeds at night. It is most active
just after sunset. The Koala can sleep for up to 20 hours
per day, mainly because their diet is so energy poor.
Sleeping allows them to conserve their energy.
Usually, koalas produce
only a single young, rarely twins are born.
At birth, the young is about 19 mm in length
and weighs about 0.5 g.
At 7 weeks, the young has a head length of
about 26 mm. The head is large in proportion
to the rest of the body.
By 13 weeks, the young has attained a body weight of about 50 g and a head length of 50 mm. At about 22 weeks of age, the eyes open and the young begins to poke its head out of the pouch for the first time.
By 24 weeks of age, the cub is fully furred
and the first teeth errupt.
30 weeks, the cub weighs about 0.5 kg and has
a head length of 70 mm. It now spends most
of the time out of the pouch clinging to the
mother's belly. Some 6 weeks later, the cub
weighs 1 kg and no longer enters the pouch.
It spends much of the time sitting on the mother's
back, but returns to the mother's belly in
cold, wet weather and to sleep.
At 37 weeks, the cub moves from contact with
the mother; the excursions were brief and quickly
terminated if the mother moved.
At 44 weeks, the cub still ventures less than
a meter from the mother.
By 48 weeks, the cub is more adventurous and no longer squeaked when the mother was removed. At this age, mother and cub are often seen sleeping back to back.
The cub remains with the mother until about
12 months of age when it weighs a little over
-- From: The Koala: A Natural History by Anthony
Lee & Roger Martin --
Size is larger in the
Head-body length in the south average 30.7
in./78 cm for males and 28 in./72 cm for females.
26 lbs/11.8 kg for southern males and 17.4
lbs/7.9 kg for southern females. In the north,
males average 14.3 lbs/6.5 kg; females 11.2
lbs/5.1 kg. At birth young weighs only 0.5
Thickest of the marsupials. Gray to tawny:
white on the chin, chest, and forelimbs. Rump
consists of tougher connective tissue dappled
with white patches. Fluffy ears with longer
white hairs. Coat is shorter and lighter in
color toward northern regions. The fur of the
koala in southern region is thick and woolly
and is thicker and longer on the back than
on the belly. Koalas in northern region have
a short coat; this gives them a naked appearnace.
The color and pattern of the coat varies considerably
between individuals and with age.
Life span: Their
life span today varies considerably due to
stress factors, probably averaging 13-18 years.
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