Switch on national geographic or the discovery channel on any given day, chances are that you will come across at least one footage of furry creatures sitting on eucalyptus trees, munching away or most likely catching a nap. These gray or brown furred creatures are called koala bears. The biggest misconception about these docile creatures is that they are bears, but they are not. They only look similar to bears. They are actually marsupials that are closely related to the wombat. Given below are some interesting facts about these creatures.
One of the unknown facts about these animals is that they are not bears. They are marsupials. They carry their young in pouches just like kangaroos. Their natural habitat is Australia. They are found all over the continent. Their fur varies from region to region. They live on eucalyptus trees, spend most of the day sleeping, and feed on the leaves of the tree at nightfall. Eucalyptus leaves are highly-poisonous to other animals, but a koala's digestive system is immune to these leaves. They drink very less water as they get their fluids from the tree leaves.
These animals weigh differently according to the regions in which they are found, but overall, they can weigh anything between 4 to 25 kg. They have a thick coat which changes from gray to brown with the change in season, so that they can camouflage easily. They have 5 fingers out of which two are thumbs to assist them in climbing trees and grooming. The soles of their paws are padded and rough so that they don't slip off the trees. They have a lot of fur padding on their bottoms and can actually sit on pointed sticks without getting poked.
A female koala gives birth to one baby which is known as a joey, in a year. When they are born, they have less hair, are blind, and are about the size of a jelly bean. They crawl into the mother's pouch and stay there for six months, drinking milk. Once they start exploring the world outside the pouch, they start feeding on 'pap', which is necessary to get their body used to the eucalyptus leaves.
Koalas sleep during the day; they are nocturnal creatures. Also, they sleep for about 18 hours in a day. They are silent, shy creatures but are known to make loud calls during the mating season, which is between the months of September and March. They have a slow metabolic rate, and thus sleep long hours to conserve energy.
It is illegal to keep koalas as pets. Only research scientists and animal protection activists can keep them as pets, that too only a sick or a young joey, but they have to return it to its natural habitat once it is well. For the survival of this species, it is very necessary that they live in the wild.
One of the saddest facts is that these animals are endangered. Their habitat is under constant threat from logging and farming. They are also under the danger of getting killed for their fur and by dogs. These are protected animals, and many efforts are going on all over the world to save them from extinction.