Hmm, is this branch going to be strong enough?
There are many who would envy a koala’s life: sleeping (or resting) for up to 20 hours a day and then spending your remaining, waking hours eating. Sounds pretty good, eh? Well, before we start getting too jealous we should probably remember that unlike us humans, koalas don’t have a soft, comfortable bed to sink into...
Cho chweet! Sleepyhead!
Instead, they have to create makeshift sleeping and resting spots by wedging themselves between tree branches. They are, however, experts at this. As the following incredible images show, koalas can doze off anywhere, regardless of how precarious their position may be. Has one ever fallen down? Not that we know of.
Koalas are highly territorial. They are only social when it comes to breeding; therefore they live in so-called ‘breeding groups’. Each koala will pick ‘their tree’ – that is, the tree or trees they mainly sit upon – and their choice of hangout will depend on their sex, age and position within the hierarchy of the group.
Oh, this tree is so cuddly!
A koala’s ‘home trees’ and the territory they make up belong to its ‘home range’. Koalas will not leave their trees and visit each other except for breeding purposes. Still, given that they sleep so much, there’s probably not much time to be social anyway. It looks like the two cuddly koalas pictured here met for the aforementioned purpose but were then overcome by sleep. Aww!
This looks rather uncomfortable, but this koala doesn’t seem to mind!
Not surprisingly, due to this sedentary lifestyle, koalas have a slow metabolism. And being the lazy (or should we be kind and say ‘practical’?) animal it is, a koala eats wherever it lives, thus restricting its diet to the leaves and bark of eucalyptus trees.
Fuzzball in a tree
Though there are over 600 species of eucalyptus in Australia, but the koala further restricts its dietary requirements by picking only 12 of them. That’s probably for the best, however, as eucalyptus leaves are not known for being high in nutrients – indeed, they are actually rather high in toxins.
This one looks reeeally comfortable up there!
The keen sense of smell koalas possess helps them distinguish the different eucalyptus trees and their leaves so that they can pick the ones that are safe to eat.
Careful, don’t lean forward any further!
Koalas are another example of how amazing the natural world can be. We have this plump animal that hardly moves but, rather, rests in trees most of its life. And yet it still finds enough to eat by choosing to feed on something that most other animals wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole because it’s so toxic! How clever is that?
Is that enough to cling to?
For its daily intake of food, the koala grinds about 500g of eucalyptus leaves into a fine pulp, swallows it and then lets its liver and hind gut take over.
Now, if I could only get my leg out…
The koala’s liver deactivates the toxins and pushes them along to be excreted and out of harm’s way, while the enlarged hind gut extracts as many nutrients out of the pulp as it can. How cool is that? But it gets even better…
Careful, fluffy one, don’t lean any further to the side!
The aborigines called koalas gula, which over time changed to ‘koala’. Some mistakenly believe the word means ‘doesn’t drink’, though this sure hits the nail on the head, as koalas drink only when they’re sick or when heat and drought deplete the eucalyptus leaves of their water content.
All snuggled up…
These amazing animals actually manage to suck about 90 percent of their water needs out of eucalyptus leaves, which, as we’ve learned, are not the most nutritious meal to begin with.
Would you care for a koala bear lollypop?
As this pic demonstrates, koalas also don’t mind taking their rest high up in a tree. Here’s another fuzzball on a stick – and it's certainly not afraid of heights. Or falling down for that matter.
With its paws positioned in this way, this fellow looks rather like an evil genius… albeit a very dozy one!
Here’s a bonus fun fact: did you know that koalas leave fingerprints very similar to those of humans? They are, in fact, one of only a few mammals (other than primates of course) that leave their mark in this way.
Double whammy! Two super-sleepy koalas.
Koalas' hands – or rather, paws – have five digits, with two opposable thumbs on each. As one can imagine, these thumbs come in very handy for getting a good grip when climbing trees or settling down for a kip.
This looks like a rather slippery slope…
As suggested, remarkably, koala fingerprints are often very hard to distinguish from human ones. So the next time someone asks, “whodunit?” – be careful: it may just be your friendly neighborhood koala trying to pin something on you.
Amazing: how do they manage to curl up into a ball?
Oh, another thing: don’t ever call them bears! Koalas get quite offended as they’re not bears at all.
Don’t lose your grip, little koala!
The ‘bear’ misnomer and misclassification was propagated by English-speaking settlers in the late 18th century. When they spotted the strange animals, they zeroed in on their thick fur and round features and compared them to bears.
This is one chilled out teddy bear; sorry – koala!
Since those early colonial days, the name koala bear has stuck, though koalas are in fact marsupials, closest to wombats in appearance and sloths in behavior. We can certainly believe the latter part!
Though it is prohibited to own a koala as a pet, we simply can’t suppress the strong urge to cuddle one. Right now. Oh well. We’ll just have to look at the images again instead!