The Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is an iconic Australian marsupial which is recognised all throughout the world. Everyone wants to see these lovely animals with their fluffy ears and black button noses sometime.

The koala gets its name from an ancient Aboriginal word meaning “no drink” because it receives over 90% of its water from the indigestible Eucalyptus or gum leaves it eats.

The Koala is found in most coastal regions of eastern and southern Australia as well as in inland woodlands. Victoria has the largest koala populations while there are none at all in Tasmania or West Australia.

Koalas spend about three of their five active hours eating usually at night. They chew the leaves with their powerful jaws to a fine paste before swallowing. Koalas eat about 50 out of the 500 different types of eucalypt leaves but mainly manna gum, blue gum, swamp gum and red river gum.

Baby Koalas (joeys) are born hairless, blind, and earless. Tiny at birth, the joey crawls into the pouch on the mother’s belly (which is closed by a drawstring-like muscle that the mother can tighten at will) and attaches itself to one of the two teats.

Over the next 6 months the joey remains inside the pouch until it has grown its ears, the eyes are open and its body is covered in soft fur. At this stage the joey begins to spend time outside the pouch on its mother’s back feeding on milk and leaves until weaning is complete at about a year old.

Ten little known facts about koalas

Did you know?

It’s widely believed that Koalas eat nothing but eucalypt leaves. However they do also occasionally eat soil for the trace minerals it holds. Unfortunately soil can cause them the serious fungal disease that so many of them are suffering from now.

In most areas of Australia Koalas are difficult to spot as they sit high up snuggled against eucalypt branches. Aboriginal people would often spot Koalas by looking for their shadows against thin eucalyptus leaves which turn the narrow edge to the sun so that less moisture is lost. But come to  the Otways and you won’t have any trouble seeing Koalas in all our townships. Have fun.