Distribution: Eastern Australia
Habitat: Eucalypt forest and woodland
Description: Koalas have grey and white fur. Their feet are adapted for tree-climbing with thumbs on all four feet and sharp claws. Females have a backward-facing pouch.
Diet: Koalas are herbivores and only eat the leaves of certain Eucalyptus species. Koalas are only found in areas with suitable eucalyptus leaves.
Behaviour: They are mainly active at night, making loud grunts or squeals to communicate with one another and they spend most of the day sleeping or resting.
Threats: Many years ago, large numbers were killed for their fur. Now they are protected and habitat destruction and bushfires are their biggest threats. Koalas in some areas suffer from the disease chlamydia which is passed on usually through mating and affects the reproductive system and the eyes. In other areas, overpopulation of koalas is a real threat as areas of habitat are often not joined and they can eat out the food supply and starve.
Koalas are safe when in trees, however, when moving along the ground they can be easily attacked by ground predators such as dingos. To escape, they will climb trees or scratch with their sharp claws. Young koalas are sometimes struck by cars when crossing roads at night.
At Perth Zoo: Perth Zoo’s koalas can be seen in the Australian Bushwalk. They share their exhibit with Red-legged Pademelons.
Did you know? Each koala eats gum tips from 1000 trees every year.
Koalas are excellent swimmers and are able to cross rivers in order to escape floods or bushfires.