Why are koala berries so cute

Koala: animal profile in the animal lexicon for children

Koalas are - next to kangaroos - the most famous animals in Australia. You can find out why koalas don't drink and why they sleep up to 22 hours a day in the GEOlino animal dictionary

Koalas are also often called koala bears. Despite their resemblance to bears, koalas are marsupials and belong to the scientific genus of the marsupial (Metatheria). The koala is considered a symbol of Australia and is a very popular animal.

General information about the koala

Koalas, scientifically Phascolarctos cinereus, are actually not bears, but marsupials and live exclusively on the east coast of Australia. However, the animals are no longer as widespread as they were 200 years ago.

In the wild, the koala sleeps most of its life, preferably in sparse eucalyptus forests. A koala sleeps in the forks of trees for up to 22 hours a day. The animals only wake up briefly at night to eat eucalyptus (leaves and bark).

Why are koalas tired all the time?

Koalas sleep up to 22 hours a day - to save energy. Your favorite food, the green of the eucalyptus, is very rich in hard fibers. Therefore, it takes a long time to digest the leaves. The koalas are helped by their up to two meters long appendix, in which millions and millions of bacteria break down the cell walls of the eucalyptus leaves.

Although the eucalyptus leaves provide little nutritional value, they also contain toxins that have to be broken down in the body. Another reason why koalas prefer to slide a quiet ball in the trees ...

Endangering the koala

That actually sounds very relaxed and cozy. So why are the animals doing so badly? Well, the animals need peace and quiet and a habitat that is not too hot, but nice and full of eucalyptus green.

This is exactly what the mild weather on the Australian east coast offers. However, it is not only the marsupials who like it there, but also more and more people. Where eucalyptus forests still grew maybe 20 or 30 years ago, roads now run through the landscape in Australia, lined with houses and places. 80 percent of the koala's habitats have now been destroyed.

In their distress, many koalas then try their hand at city dwellers. But life between houses and streets is not for the marsupials: it is estimated that 4,000 of the sedate animals are run over by cars or bitten to death by dogs every year. The stress they are exposed to in the noisy cities also makes many koalas sick.

And last but not least, there is a virus in Australia that weakens the koalas' immune system and makes them susceptible to bacterial infections. Some koalas become sterile or blind, others die.

Animal rights activists estimate that there are only 40,000 to 80,000 koalas left in Australia today. When the Europeans settled the Australian continent at the end of the 18th century, there were still millions.

What does a koala eat?

Koalas mainly feed on the eccalyptus leaves of the trees. Because the green stuff with the cough drop aroma is pretty much the only thing that the koala's appendix can tolerate. And even there the animals are picky: of the 600 or so Australian eucalyptus species, gourmets can only taste two or three types of eucalyptus.

The size and weight of a koala

Koala males can grow up to 85 centimeters and weigh 14 kilograms. The female koala are smaller and lighter.

Reproduction among the koalas

Koalas mate between August and February. 35 days later, the female gives birth to a naked cub weighing about one gram, which then continues to grow in her pouch.

Profile Koala:

  • Scientific name: Phascolarctos cinereus
  • Subclass: Marsupials
  • size: 61 to 85 centimeters body length
  • Weight: 11 to 14 kilograms
  • Life expectancy: Males about 10 years, females about 15 years
  • habitat: East coast of Australia
  • nutrition: Leaves and bark of eucalyptus trees