The Koala:  one you want to cuddle but do so at your own risk. Do not be misled by its very laid back attitude as they spend as many as 18 hours a day napping and resting. Koalas are marsupials, related to kangaroos. Most marsupials have pouches where the tiny newborns develop. A koala mother usually gives birth to one joey at a time. A newborn koala is only the size of a jelly bean. Called a joey, the baby is blind, naked, and earless. As soon as it’s born, this tiny creature makes its way from the birth canal to its mother’s pouch. Using the two well-developed senses it’s born with—smell and touch—along with its strong front legs and claws and an instinct that tells it which direction to head, the baby koala reaches the pouch. There it stays, safely tucked away,growing and developing for about seven months. People used to hunt koalas for their fur. Now strict laws protect them from hunters, but their habitat is not protected, and it is disappearing as land is developed. More than four-fifths of original koala habitat has been destroyed. Conservationists are trying to save what is left.  Koalas smell like cough drops because of their diet of eucalyptus leaves. There are many kinds of eucalyptus trees. Koalas will eat from only a few of these and will move on to another tree when the leaves become toxic. Koalas have thick, greyish fur, with white on their chests, inner arms, and ears. They have large furry ears and leathery noses. Koalas live in trees, sometimes coming down to the ground to seek shade or another tree. They occasionally jump from one tree to the next. The word koala may come from an Aboriginal word meaning no drink. Although koalas do drink when necessary, they obtain most of the moisture they need from leaves. Koalas have their own built-in cushion! The fur on a koala’s bottom is extra thick so that the koala can comfortably rest in trees.


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