The koala or, inaccurately, koala bear (Phascolarctos cinereus) is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial native to Australia. It is the only extant representative of the family Phascolarctidae and its closest living relatives are the wombats. Because of its distinctive appearance, the koala is recognized worldwide as a symbol of Australia. They were hunted by Indigenous Australians and depicted in myths and cave art for millennia. The first recorded encounter between a European and a koala was in 1798, and an image of the animal was published in 1810 by naturalist George Perry.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example, foliage, for the main component of its die...
In zoology, a folivore is a herbivore that specializes in eating leaves. Mature leaves contain a high proportion of hard-to-digest cellulose, less ...
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some anima...
Altricial animals are those species whose newly hatched or born young are relatively immobile. They lack hair or down, are not able to obtain food ...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Koala is a charming marsupial with a thick-set body, small eyes, and large ears. The wool-like coat of the animal is thick but soft, colored with ash-grey. The densely packed fur on the bottom serves as a cushion, allowing koalas to sit upon rough tree branches. The underparts as well as the tips of hairs on their ears are white. In the center of their chest, adult male koalas have the identifying brown-colored "scent gland". One of the key characteristics of this animal is a very strong sense of smell, which helps them distinguish between poisonous and eatable leaves. They have large sharp claws on their long limbs, which help them in climbing trees, as well as 5 digits, including opposable thumbs, allowing them to grip tree branches and food.
Koalas are distributed across eastern and southeastern Australia, including northeastern, central, and southeastern Queensland, eastern New South Wales, Victoria as well as southeastern parts of South Australia. They can be found in habitats ranging from relatively open forests to woodlands, and in climates ranging from tropical to cool temperate. In semi-arid climates, koalas prefer riparian habitats, where nearby streams and creeks provide refuge during times of drought and extreme heat.
Koalas are asocial animals, congregating only during the breeding season. They usually form large, loosely organized groups in areas with abundant suitable trees, with a single individual per tree. During the rest of the year, koalas tend to live solitarily, showing very little social behavior. They are arboreal animals, dwelling in trees. Koalas are exceptionally good climbers. Meanwhile, when on the ground, they are very slow walkers. During the daytime hours, these nocturnal animals usually sleep on the fork of eucalyptus trees. Normally, koalas are quiet animals. However, when threatened or alarmed, they typically give out a call, reminding the cry of a human baby, and accompanying it by shaking. In addition, during the breeding season, males of this species begin to emit bellowing calls. Koalas also scent-mark their trees, which is a form of communication.
Koalas have a polygynous mating system with the dominant male, mating with most females. Koalas mate from December to March. The gestation period in koalas lasts for only 35 days, yielding a single baby. During the first 5-6 months of its life, the joey lives in the pouch of its mother, feeding exclusively on milk. By the age of 6 months, the young is weaned. The young then starts feeding upon pap - partially digested vegetation, found in the excrement of its mother. At 7 months old, the baby comes out of the pouch of its mother, beginning to cling to her back. Then, at about 1 year old, the young koala becomes independent, after which the youngster typically stays with its mother for another few months before it leaves. Male koalas reach sexual maturity by 3-4 years old while females are mature at 2-3 years old.
The primary threat to the koala population in Australia is the destruction, fragmentation, and alteration of their natural range, due to which the animals are often hunted by dogs as well as colliding with vehicles. Other notable threats include diseases and bushfires. The animals are also exposed to drought, which leads to a considerable number of mortality in certain populations of koalas.
According to IUCN Red List, the total population size of the koala is around 300,000 mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List, and its numbers today are decreasing.