Information On Koalas

 

Koala Information
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Koalas are nocturnal, as are most marsupials. They awake when the sun sets. Koalas are by nature arboreal, living peacefully and almost solitary lives, in the tops of the eucalyptus trees. They have one of the most specialized diets of any living mammal; it feeds almost exclusively on the leaves of a small number of species of the eucalyptus.

The gestation period for a marsupial is only thirty four to thirty six days. The young when born is in a embryonic form. When born the undeveloped young, called a joey, a single offspring in the case of the koala, is smaller than the average human's little finger. Immediately the young begins the long journey to the mother's pouch. There it becomes attached to the mother's nipple or teat.

The koala's hand has two opposable thumbs. The claws are important to the koala's ability to climb and to cling to a tree following a jump of up to ten feet.

Height: averages 30 inches for the males; females, 28 inches. Weight: Averages 26 pounds for males; 17 pounds for the females. At birth the young only weighs .5 gm..

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Koalas are the only member of the Phascolarctos cinereus family. There are three subspecies: P.c. adustus, P.c. victor, P.c. cinereus.

Koalas sleep as much as eighteen hours a day and have a low-energy diet of eucalyptus leaves.

The life span of the koala varies due to stress factors, averaging from thirteen to eighteen years.

The koala's coat is colored gray to tawny, white on the chin, forelimbs, and chest. The koala living in the northern climates, has a lighter colored coat, and much shorter hair.

The Future of the Koala

WASHINGTON -- In a letter delivered today to Ms. Mollie Beattie, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Fund for Animals and Australians for Animals threatened to file suit against the Service should it not act on a petition to list the koala under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The petition, originally filed in May 1994, provides substantial evidence demonstrating the massive destruction of koalas and koala habitat in Australia. By law, the Service must publish a finding on the petition one year after receiving it.

"The Service's failure to comply with its own mandate is pushing the koala closer to the precipice of extinction," states D.J. Schubert, Wildlife Biologist representing The Fund for Animals. "The koala will likely fall off that precipice if drastic action is not taken to protect koalas from the timber, agriculture, and development interests. A positive response to the petition would send a clear wake-up call to Australian authorities about their mismanagement of koala habitat."

According to some of the best recognized koala experts, who submitted affidavits supporting the petition, the future of koala throughout their native range in Australia is bleak unless drastic action is taken immediately. Dr. Tony Norton, a Research Fellow in Ecology and Biological Sciences at the Australian National University, predicts that "a number of populations across the species' range . . . could be extinct before the end of the century."

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