Gathering koala facts is fun, partly because the animal is so cute and cuddly, and somewhat because it falls into the exotic classification. We often refer to animals like koala bears, most likely because they resemble small bears, teddy bears. The koala facts don’t bear (no pun intended) that out, however.
The koala is a marsupial, and as such, is more closely related to the kangaroo than to a bear. It isn’t all that closely related to the kangaroo. For that matter, the wombat, which we know even less about, is the koala’s closest relative. Wombats are also cute and cuddly with a name like that they almost have to be.
Eats Eucalyptus, Smells Like Eucalyptus
One of the first koala facts we learn is that they eat eucalyptus leaves. Eucalyptus leaves are somewhat toxic, which does not appear to bother the koala in the slightest. The leaves are also tough to digest, which doesn’t bother the koala either as it has a particular digestive system build for digesting eucalyptus leaves.
It is claimed by those who know their koalas that the animal eats so many eucalyptus leaves that it takes on a distinct eucalyptus odor, an odor we associate with cough drops and throat lozenges.
A koala will spend most of its life in a eucalyptus tree, more than one tree. In the course of its lifetime, the typical koala will visit more than 100 eucalyptus trees, which make up its range.
This presents a problem, as it takes so many trees to sustain a koala. As the eucalyptus forests are destroyed to make use of the land for other purposes, the koala faces a battle for survival. The koala is territorial and will bark at other koalas to denote its territory.
Dogs, Cats, And Fights
The koala is relatively safe when in a tree, so it is safe most of the time, but does face dangers when on the ground, primarily from dogs and automobiles. Automobiles take a heavy toll on this little brown “bear.” The koala, as cuddly as it appears, is not above getting into fights with other koalas, and these also take a toll as the animal sometimes succumbs to injuries.
The life span of a koala is about 17 years, with females generally outliving males by 9 or 10 years, as it is the males who get into fights and seem to get into trouble with dogs and automobiles more than do the females.
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