Koalas aren't bears as many people are led to believe. They aren't even related to bears.

The koala is related to the kangaroo and the wombat. The koala is a marsupial mammal.
The reason the koala is called a koala bear is because the koala looks like a teddy bear.

The koala's scientific name is Phasclarctos Cinereus.

Now there are only 2,000 to 8,000 koalas in the wild! Although not officially classified as endangered, the population of Australian koalas has dropped by 90% in less than a decade. This is due to the destruction of the koala's natural habitat,
a narrow crescent on the eastern coast of Australia.


 Logging, agriculture and urban development have not only reduced the area available to them, but added other dangers. The koala's habitat has been criss crossed by roads,
resulting in many road kills and attacks by neighboring pet dogs are frequent.
Disease, too, has taken its toll on the koala.

Koala fur

Koalas fur is different in different parts of Australia. In the southern parts of Australia it is longer and shaggier than in the north in order to keep them warm in the cold southern winters. The closest relative of the koala is the wombat. They both have pouches which open towards the rear. This is fine for the wombat, but koalas need strong muscles ringing the pouch to keep the young one from falling out.

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Some facts

The koala's nickname is a Native Bear.

The koala is a marsupial mammal.

They are warm-blooded.
The word 'koala' is thought to mean 'no drink' or 'no water' in the Aboriginal language.
The koala's young is called a joey.
The koala's young are born while still at the embryonic stage, weighing only 0.5 g.
Koalas drink milk from the mother.
The koala breathes oxygen from the air.
The koala might look cuddly but the koala has very sharp teeth and very sharp claws.
The koala has white fur on the underside and gray on the rest of its body.
The koala has big ears and a big nose.
The mother has a pouch.
The koala has very thick fur.
The adult koala generally grows to 25 - 30 inches long.
The koala is very small when it's just born.
After 1 month the cub is 1 cm. long.
The koala weighs 15 to 30 pounds.
One cub is born at a time.
The koala cub stays in the mother's pouch for 5 months.
The koala cub is blind when it's born.
Koalas breed in the summer.
Koalas live for 20 or more years.
The koala can run as fast as a rabbit.
Koalas sleep for up to 19 hours.
Koalas live on the East coast of Australia.
They live and sleep in the eucalyptus trees. It's hot, light and dry here.    
Aboriginal names for the koala include Kaola, Koalo, Koolewang, Koobor, Colah, Coola and Cullawine.               

A few facts

The koala's territory is getting smaller because people are cutting down trees and making farms on them. Koalas can only live in one place in the world, Australia. The koala only eats Eucalyptus leaves and it eats so many leaves, it smells like the leaves.
The koala hops from tree to tree and climbs the trees to get the leaves. The koala will eat 2.5 pounds of food a day.
It uses its claws to get the branches and get the leaves.
The koala used to be endangered because people would kill the koala for its fur. 

cute koala in tree


Over 2 million koalas were killed between 1908 and 1927. Occasionally koalas are taken by Goannas, Eagles, and Owls. Humans are koala's worst enemies. Dingoes will kill the koala. The koala does not have very many enemies. Koala young are hunted by large birds of prey. Their Behavior is clumsy but they are strong swimmers.
They live in loose-knit groups if enough suitable trees are present, but only one animal per tree.

Males express territoriality during the breeding season, bellowing and grasping the base of a tree while rubbing their chest against it, thus leaving a scent marking with their chest gland. Females bellow as well during this time but are not territorial. 


The koala's closest living relative is the wombat, which is a stationary burrower rather than a nomadic arboreal like the koala. One clue to this relationship is the common design of the pouch, which opens to the rear in both animals. 

Life History

Mating occurs Nov-Feb in the south, Sep-Jan further north. Gestation about 35 days; single young weigh about 1/5 oz. and are about 3/4 inches long. Newborn crawls from cloaca to pouch and attaches to a nipple to complete its development. The koala Leaves the pouch first at about 5.5 months, permanently at about 8 months. The young joey then clings to it's mother's back or stomach, sticking it's head into the pouch to feed. During weaning the joey eats partially-digested eucalyptus that merges from mother's cloaca,
thus receiving bacteria needed for digestion as well as food.

Life span 12+ yrs (wild) 16+ yrs (captivity).The largest koalas weigh over 10 kg and are found in Victoria while the smallest live in North Queensland and weigh only 5.5 kg. Koalas are found between these two areas, but only where enough suitable trees have been left.
Koalas also communicate with each other by making a noise like a snore and then a belch, known as a "bellow".
Koalas usually only have one cub per year. Older females will usually have one every two years.

Koala babies are known by several names. "pouch young", "back young", "joeys" and "cubs".
When koalas are born they are only 2 centimeters long, which is about the same as a jellybean. 

Reproduced with permission from the Lonely Planet website © 2010 Lonely Planet. Image

mother koala and her baby cubs

Special Adaptions

Extra thick fur, especially on the neck and shoulders, helps protect the koala from even the worst weather.
Koalas do not build nests.
Pear-shaped body provides stability while the koala sits in trees.
Opposable thumbs and toes allow for a tight grip when climbing.
Rough pads on undersurface of hands and feet increase traction while the koala is climbing.


Rough pads on undersurface of hands and feet increase traction while the koala is climbing.
Large nose with sensitive hairs enables the koala to detect differences in smell between different eucalyptus leaves, ensuring that its diet consists of only the best of the bunch. Cheek pouches allow animal to store food not yet chewed while moving to a safer or more protected location. The Koala cools itself by licking its arms and stretching out as it rests in the trees (koalas have no sweat glands). 

The biggest problem for koalas is that their bushland (or "habitat") is being cut down to make way for houses.
Koalas are protected by law but their homes and food aren't.

Have you heard of Jimmy the Koala?

He was hit by a car and nearly died, but he survived.

Luckily Jimmy the koala was rescued and taken to a wildlife hospital.
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Jimmy the koala holding onto leg of carer
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