Koalas are truly unique creatures. Aside from being found only in the wild in Australia, these native marsupials are unique in many ways. For starters, they are among the most sleepy (not to mention the cutest) animals in the world.
If you’d like to learn more about these beautiful mammals, including where you can see koalas in Queensland, these are some of the lesser-known facts about koalas.
1: Koalas are picky eaters
A koala’s diet consists of eucalyptus leaves (up to a kilo a day!) ), but these herbivores are very picky about which eucalyptus they eat. Of the 700+ species of eucalyptus in Australia, they only eat about 50. Typically, they will climb all the way to the top of the tallest tree for their next meal because that’s where the juiciest, most nutritious leaves are found.
For most animals, eucalyptus leaves are poisonous. However, koalas have a special fibrous digestive organ called the cecum that helps them detoxify the chemicals in the leaves.
2: Koalas do not drink large amounts of water.
Noosa National Park
The word koala comes from the indigenous word for “not drinking” because most of the water in their diet comes from the leaves of eucalyptus trees. However, in extremely hot summers, the eucalyptus leaves dry out and koalas may need water to supplement their diet
If you happen to find a thirsty koala during bushfire season or a heat wave, make sure you don’t pour water from a bottle directly into their mouth. They need to lap up the liquid at their own pace, otherwise the water may flood their lungs and they could get pneumonia.
- The koala in Queensland has a lighter coat
Although there is only one type of koala in the world, their appearance can vary slightly depending on where they live. Southern koalas are larger, hairier and have darker coats than those living in warmer northern areas such as Queensland. Male koalas have coarser looking fur and are 50% larger in size than females.
4: Baby koalas are called “Joeys”.
Billabong Sanctuary – koalas.
Like kangaroos, baby koalas are called joeys. These marsupials are born blind and hairless, and they come into the world about the size of a peanut, spending six months in their mother’s pouch as they grow and develop.
The female koala’s pouch opens from the bottom to allow the mother to move around the branches without getting caught in the pouch and to prevent the pouch from filling up with bark and leaves.
5: Queensland is one of the only places where koalas can be held.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
If getting up close and personal with koalas is on your bucket list, then you’ve come to the right place. Queensland is one of only three states in Australia that allow you to hold a koala. You can even have breakfast with a koala on Hamilton Island.
There are 14 places to hold a koala in Queensland. If you’re on the Gold Coast, be sure to visit the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. It has its own wildlife hospital that treats sick and injured wildlife and releases hundreds of native animals back into the wild each month.
5: Koalas sleep more than 18 hours a day Koalas sleep
Koalas have a reputation for being lazy because they spend 18 to 22 hours a day sleeping! This is due in large part to the low energy of their food, which makes them more sluggish, and the toxins in the eucalyptus leaves take a long time to digest. This is due in large part to the low energy of their diet, which makes them even more sluggish, and the toxins in the eucalyptus leaves take a long time to digest.
7: koalas have fingerprints Koala Magnetic Island
Just like us, koalas have fingerprints. In fact, they are very similar to human fingerprints Even under a microscope, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two species.
Koalas also have thumbs, but they have a total of four of them. They have two opposable thumbs on each front paw for climbing, gripping trees and grasping food, while the second and third digits on the hind paws are fused together to form a grooming claw.
- The world’s oldest koala once lived in Queensland.
Lone Pine Reserve, Brisbane.
Koalas typically live 8 to 10 years in the wild and between 12 and 15 years in captivity. Until 2001, Brisbane’s Lone Pine Sanctuary (interestingly, it was the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary) was home to a koala named Sarah who lived to be 23 years old and was listed in the Guinness Book of Records for being the oldest captive koala in the world.
Want to take a picture with a koala? You can at Lone Pine Sanctuary; plus, the profits from your koala experience will go towards feeding and caring for the 130 koalas at Lone Pine Sanctuary and contribute to research and conservation efforts.
- Queensland has a team of detection dogs that help save koalas.
Australia Zoo, Sunshine Coast
In 2015, the University of the Sunshine Coast created a Dog Detection Conservation Program that trains rescued dogs to use their keen sense of smell to track and help rescue rare animals such as koalas, quolls and masked owls, detect pest species and find threatened native plants.
One of the program’s Australian koalas named Bear, an expert in locating injured, malnourished or isolated wildlife for the team, became an Australian hero after helping with koala rescue efforts following the devastating 2019/2020 Australian bushfires.