Wild Australian Koala Click to enlarge image
Wild Australian Koala on French Island, Victoria. Photo released as part of the Koala Genome Consortium publicity. Image: Greta Frankham
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • NSW Conservation Status
    Vulnerable species
  • Classification
    Species
    cinereus
    Genus
    Phascolarctos
    Family
    Phascolarctidae
    Order
    Diprotodontia
    Subclass
    Marsupialia
    Class
    Mammalia
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    68-82 cm

Introduction

The Koala is one of Australia's best-known animals.

Identification

The Koala's thick ash-grey fur, white chest and round head with fluffy ears make this species unmistakable.

Habitat

The Koala lives in eucalypt forests.

Distribution

The Koala has a patchy distribution from northern Queensland to southern Victoria and south-eastern South Australia. The Koala is no longer common in the Sydney region, although a significant population remains on the southern outskirts. Clearing and fragmentation of its habitat for housing developments and farming continues to significantly reduce its distribution.



Feeding and diet

The Koala has a highly specialised diet made up of the leaves of certain species of eucalypts as well as some flowers and stems. The eucalypt leaves are high in fibre and the Koala has a long caecum (part of the large intestine) to aid with digestion. The leaves also have a high moisture content.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Most of the Koala's time is spent in eucalypt trees sleeping and feeding, although occasionally it travels along the ground like its closest relatives, the wombats.

Breeding behaviours

The Koala is solitary and the larger males have scent glands on their chest. Breeding occurs during summer and usually one baby, or joey, is produced each year. After six months in the pouch, the joey is gradually weaned from milk, to leaves and soft liquid faeces, called pap, from the mother. This is thought to provide the right bacteria needed to digest eucalypt leaves.

Conservation status

Koala populations in New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT are listed as Endangered under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.


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