FACTS ON KOALAS
Facts About Koalas
Although the koala is often referred to as the koala “bear,” it is not a bear at all, but an Australian marsupial whose closest living relative is the wombat. In fact, all mammals native to Australia are also marsupials, which is any animal that carries its young on a “pouch” on it’s body. The opossum is one marsupial that is native to North America.
Although koalas are not yet endangered, their numbers have been dropping due to a number of environmental conditions, the largest of which is loss of habitat resulting from the destruction of the eucalyptus forests in which they live. Koalas feed almost exclusively on certain types of eucalyptus leaves.
In their native Australia, koalas are found along the southern and eastern coasts, as well as further inland where there is suitable forested habitat. They are not found in the central or western parts of the country. During the early part of the 20th century, koalas were almost entirely extirpated from southern Australia due to market hunting for the fur trade, but they were later restored using stock from the eastern part of the country. Koala hunting is no longer legal.
Size among grown koalas ranges from around 5 kilograms (11 pounds) to 14 kilograms (31 pounds). Koalas spend most of their time in trees, and give birth to a single baby at a time. These koala youngsters are called “joeys.”