Koala Facts
Koala Facts

37 Astounding Koala Facts

Madeline Thatcher
By Madeline Thatcher, Associate Writer
Published February 26, 2019Updated October 4, 2019
  • Koalas began to evolve almost 45 million years ago, right around the time Australia detached from Antartica and began to move north.[4]
  • Koalas are only found in Australia.[3]
  • The Aborigines, the indigenous people who lived on the island of Australia for thousands of years before the English arrived, had many names for the Koala bear, including “cullewine,” “koolewong,” and “kobarcola.”[7]
  • Aboriginal people ate koalas, but they also used them in many of their myths and legends.[4]
  • Koala Aborigines Fact
    The Aborigines, the native people of Australia, celebrated the koala bear in their culture's myths, legends, and food supply.
  • “Koala” means “no water” in one Australian tribe’s language.[7]
  • John Price, an English explorer, first made note of the koala in 1798, which helped make the little animal famous in the coming years.[4]
  • With the arrival of English settlers to Australia, koalas began to be hunted and killed for their pelts, which were used as currency in the new colonies.[4]
  • During the 1920s, millions of koalas were killed for sport and for trading, causing the animal to almost become extinct.[4]
  • The Australian Government declared koalas a “protected species” in the late 1930s.[4]
  • Currently, koalas are listed as a “vulnerable” species, with anywhere between 43,000 and 80,000 koalas left in the wild.[3]
  • The scientific name of the koala is phascularctos cinereus, from the Greek word phaskolos, meaning “pouch,” and arktos, meaning “bear.”[3]
  • Even though the koala is often called a “bear,” it’s actually a marsupial, an animal with a pouch on its stomach that holds young inside until they are old enough to brave the outside world.[5]
  • Koalas sleep for up to 18 hours a day.[5]
  • I'd love to hold a koala. They sleep 22 hours a day, eat eucalyptus leaves and just hang out. I want to spend some time with that guy.

    - Milo Ventimiglia

  • Koalas are nocturnal.[5]
  • Koalas are closely related to kangaroos and wombats.[3]
  • Koala fur is coarse, like wool, and helps keep them dry.[3]
  • Koalas eat only eucalyptus leaves and spend most of their lives on the branches of these trees.[5]
  • Koalas have a very good sense of smell and very poor eyesight, which forces them to rely on their ears rather than their eyes to avoid predators and move from tree to tree.[3]
  • The only time koalas leave their tree is to find another tree with more leaves to eat.[3]
  • Koala Deforestation Fact
    Koalas live in and rely on eucalyptus trees for their food. Once the trees are gone, so are the koalas.
  • Koalas need about 100 trees each in order to survive, which means that even though they aren’t being  hunted as they once were, their population is decreasing as the forests that make up their homes disappear.[5]
  • Fourteen football-fields' worth of the koalas' tree-filled habitats are destroyed every day.[2]
  • While eucalyptus leaves are poisonous to almost every other animal, koalas can subsist on them as a singular diet because of their digestive tract, which produces bacteria to break down the poison while they sleep.[3]
  • Deforestation could cause koala extinction in certain regions of Australia as early as 2050 if the current rate continues.[2]
  • Koalas smell like the oil in eucalyptus leaves because they eat so many.[5]
  • Koalas do not drink very much water; instead, they get moisture from the leaves of the eucalyptus.[5]
  • Koalas are herbivores.[3]
  • Currently, the primary animal predators of koalas are domestic dogs.[3]
  • Koalas have fingerprints and are the only mammal, apart from humans and chimpanzees, to have them.[3]
  • Koala Marsupial Fact
    If you high-five a koala bear, you'll most likely see her fingerprints!

  • Koalas are generally solitary—male and female koalas only meet to mate.[1]
  • Koalas are pregnant for a little over a month.[3]
  • Koala mothers only have one baby at a time.[1]
  • A baby koala is called a joey.[3]
  • Koalas grow to their full size by the time they are 4 years old.[1]
  • Koalas live for 10–15 years.[3]
  • Koalas Chlamydia Fact
    Koalas and STDs are unlikely but persistent friends.
  • In recent years, koala populations have been infected with chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease usually found in humans.[6]
  • Some koala populations have had chlamydia infection rates as high as 100%.[6]
  • Scientists are working to cure chlamydia outbreaks in koalas—a difficult task since antibiotics can prevent cultivation of gut bacteria needed to break down the poison in eucalyptus leaves.[6]
  • Gettin' Cute and Cuddly with Koalas INFOGRAPHIC
    Quick Koala Facts Infographic

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