Today (1 September) marks the first day of Save The Koala Month, a fundraising and awareness campaign to help Australia’s cuddliest-looking icon.
Although not yet classed as an endangered species, their habitat is under threat. Koalas use trees for food but also for protection from predators and weather, so the clearing of trees for farming and housing has had an enormous impact on their survival.
With their big furry ears and striking black noses, koalas are one of Australia’s most popular animals. Despite the koala’s scientific name, Phascolarctos cinereus, meaning ash-coloured pouched bear, it is not a bear but a marsupial.
A koala’s fur and size are dependent on the area in which it lives. Koalas from the north of Australia exhibiting paler grey fur than their southern counterparts. The smallest koalas (around 5 kilograms) are found in North Queensland, while the largest (up to 10 kilograms) live in Victoria.
A typical koala will eat around 500 grams of eucalyptus leaves each. It is through licking the dew on these leaves that the koala gets moisture, as they don’t often drink water. The leaves provide very little energy so koalas conserve energy by sleeping up to 18 hours a day.