noun:an Australian tree-dwelling marsupial mammal that has large hairy ears, thick gray fur, sharp claws for climbing, and no tail and feeds on eucalyptus leaves
1. Koalas can only be found in the eucalyptus forests of eastern and south-eastern Australia. Their habitat quality can be measured by density of the food trees. Koalas do not live in the rainforest.
2. There are only 2,000 to 8,000 wild koalas in Australia at present. They can live to be 17 years old in the wild, but if they live near populated areas they usually have a shorter life-span because of accidents and disease.
3. The Koala is not a bear but a marsupial. A marsupial is an animal that carries its young in a pouch. The closest relative of the koala is the wombat.
4. Koalas range in size from 27 to 36 inches (70 to 90 cm) and weigh from 9 to 20 pounds (4 to 9 kg).
5. The word “koala” means “no drink” and it refers to their ability to go for many days without water. Koalas get the water they need from the eucalyptus they eat. The koala, ringtail possum and the greater glider are the only animals that feed solely on eucalyptus leaves. These leaves are very poisonous to people. Koalas feed mainly at night and eat about 11 pounds (5 kg) of leaves at one time. The koala has a very slow metabolism because of their high fiber diet which gives them less nutrients. Because the koala stores so little fat in its body, it must find ways to conserve energy. The main way the koala makes this happen is by sleeping. The koala will sleep from 16 to 19 hours a day. Koalas sleep in the fork of a tree.
6. Koalas have thick, soft fur. Their ears have long, white hairs on the tips. They have a large, dark, leathery nose and beady eyes. They have a small mouth that can open very wide. They have two thumbs on their front paws and sharp curved claws on all of their toes. The second and third toes on the hind foot are joined together and have rough pads. They are used for grooming and climbing. The Koala can run as fast as a rabbit. The Koala is the only arboreal marsupial without a tail.
7. Along with their amazing climbing ability, koalas have an acute sense of smell and hearing. They also make wailing and grunting sounds to communicate with each other.
8. The male koala is larger than the female. The male koala also has a large dark scent patch in the center of their chest. The females have a much smaller patch than the males. The scent patch is used for marking territory on trees.
9. Koalas are usually solitary animals except in the breeding season. Koalas only have one young per year. Koalas breed in summer, and the young are born about a month after mating. The koala babies are known as 'joeys'. They are only 2 cm at birth and are born without fur. This can be a dangerous time for the joey because they can't regulate their body temperature until they grow fur. They are also born with their eyes and ears shut. The joey stays in its mother's pouch for at least seven months and after that rides on her back until it can care for itself. Koalas take three or four years to mature. The joeys are not capable of digesting eucalyptus leaves initially and need to eat special micro-organisms found in the pap, or droppings, from their mothers.
10. Only a certain number of koalas can exist in an area if they are to remain healthy and well-fed. The rapid loss of their habitat is threatening the koala population. When koalas become upset and stressed, they may get a disease called "Chlamydia". Fire has also become a huge threat to the koala. Not only do koalas die when fire sweeps through their habitat, but it kills the eucalyptus trees that they depend on for food. Koalas also are threatened by dogs, cats, dingoes, goannas, eagles, owls and automobiles.