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THE CUDDLY KOALA

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koalapicAlthough 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.
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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.
Birth and Pouch Life
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.

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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.
At 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.


koalaintreeBy 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 2 kg.


-- From: The Koala: A Natural History by Anthony Lee & Roger Martin --
SUMMARY:
Size: Size is larger in the southern regions.
Head-body length in the south average 30.7 in./78 cm for males and 28 in./72 cm for females.

Weight: Average 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 gm.
Coat: 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.
Gestation period: 34-36 days
Life span: Their life span today varies considerably due to stress factors, probably averaging 13-18 years.
Principal predator: Humans
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Information has been collected from various sources for the benefit of our many visitors, within Australia & Overseas.
Reference sources: In particular: MS Encarta, MS Dangerous Creatures, Websters Australian Mammals & other Reference Books.
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