Marsuplals are mammals that commonly bear a pouch such as Kangaroos and Koala Bears. Two thirds of marsuplal species are found to Australia. Koala is an Australian marsuplal. The Koala looks like a teddy bear but it is not a bear at all. Like kangaroos female koalas have pouches where young koalas feed and grow. Unlike kangaroos however koalas have pouches that open to the rear of the body. After giving birth a female koala carries her baby in her pouch for about six months. When the infant emerges it rides on its mother’s back or clings to her belly accompanying her everwhere until it is about a year old. The baby koala even sleeps in this piggy back position.
Body:_ Its sturdy tall less body is about 24 inches long. The koala has large rounded shaggy ears. Its fur is mostly ash gray. The koala has strong claws which it uses for climbing
Where do Koalas Hang out?
During most of the day upto 18 hours a koala sleeps high up in the fork of a eucalyptus tree. The koala spreads its toes and grasps the sides of the tree. Its strong legs and sharp claws help it to tightly grasp the trunk.
Eucalyptus trees are important to people and koalas. People use oil from these trees to make eucalyptus cough drops and other medicines. Koalas eat the leaves from these trees. That is why koalas smell like cough drops. Koalas need to live in very thick forests because they eat so many leaves. An adult koala eats from 1 to 2 pounds of eucalyptus leaves a day. Koalas do not drink much water and they get most of their moisture from these leaves. The name koala means no drink in the native Australian language. Koalas even store stacks of leaves in pouches in their cheeks.
Koalas are picky eaters. They may feed on one leafy free and pass up another. That’s because some eucalyptus trees contain an extremely deadly poison in their leaves. Koalas are careful to avoid these deadly trees. But they eat plenty from the other trees.
A special digestive system a long gut allows koalas to break down the tough eucalyptus leaves and remain unharmed by their poison. Koalas eat so many of these leaves that they take on a distinctive odour from their oil reminiscent of cough drops.
These plump fuzzy mammals were widely hunted during the 1920’s and 1930s and their population plunged. Helped by reintroduction they have re-appeared over much of their former range but their population is smaller and scattered. Koalas need a lot of space about a hundred trees per animal a pressing problem as Australia’s woodlands continue to shrink.
Courtesy young world THE HINDU