Koalas: amazing creatures of Australia

Koalas are iconic Australian marsupials. They live in eucalyptus forests and have an adorable appearance. With their thick fur and rounded ears, they capture everyone’s hearts.

The koalas

Getting to know koalas better

They feed almost exclusively on eucalyptus leaves. These leaves are low in nutrients and difficult to digest. These marsupials developed a specialized digestive system to break down the toxins in eucalyptus.

They live in the coastal regions of eastern and southeastern Australia and spend most of their time in trees. They sleep between 18 and 20 hours a day to conserve energy, as their diet is quite poor in nutrients.

They are skilled tree climbers, which allows them to feed themselves and protect themselves from predators. To do this, their front paws have two opposable fingers, similar to human thumbs. This gives them a strong grip on trunks and branches.

Each koala has a unique pattern of pigmentation on its nose, especially around the nostrils. This makes it easy to distinguish each individual. A 22-year study found that this pattern does not change with age. Observing this feature is an effective method of studying koalas. In addition, this method is non-invasive and stress-free as it can be performed using binoculars.

koala nose

Their spines curve inward, so they can sit comfortably at the forks of branches. In addition, they have a cartilaginous pad on their buttocks that allows them to rest for hours in this position without discomfort.

Koala babies are very special

Females have a marsupial pouch where they raise their young. The baby, also called a “joey,” is the size of a jelly bean. It is born blind and earless and makes its way to its mother’s pouch, guided by smell and touch. Its front legs are strong and it has an innate instinct that helps it on this journey.

After six months in the pouch, the mother produces a special substance called porridge. The joey consumes it along with breast milk. This porridge contains bacteria essential for the baby to digest eucalyptus leaves.

At seven months, it begins to eat leaves, but returns to the pouch to nurse. At twelve months, she stops nursing and feeds only on leaves. When she comes out of the bag, she clings to her back or her mother’s belly, and always accompanies her.

Mother with baby koala

Koalas have human-like fingerprints

A fascinating feature is the similarity of their fingerprints to those of humans. The patterns of swirls and loops are almost identical, surprising scientists.

Characteristic used to identify them in conservation studies. Each koala has a unique pattern of footprints. This allows researchers to track individuals in the wild. Additionally, it is an example of convergent evolution, where unrelated species develop similar characteristics due to environmental pressures.

Koalas have human-like fingers.

It should be noted that although their fingerprints are similar to those of humans, they have adaptations for their arboreal life. Their fingers are wider and have claws, allowing them to climb and cling to tree branches with ease.

Koalas are unique and fascinating creatures. Preserving this species and its natural habitat in Australia is crucial for humanity.

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