Do you know the answer to the question: “What do koalas eat?”
This article aims to cover important koala diet and feeding questions, such as:
- What do koalas eat?
- What do koalas look like?
- What do baby koalas eat?
- Do koalas eat bamboo?
- What do koalas drink?
- Where do koalas live?
We have also listed some amazing koala facts that you might haven’t heard of yet so keep reading!
Before we answer the question about the koala diet, let’s begin with some basic information about this cuddly animal.
A koala, or scientifically known as Phascolarctos cinereus is categorized under phylum Chordata, class Mammalia.
Koalas are marsupials, meaning these types of animals also have a pouch on their abdomen that has the capability of carrying or housing their young. Kangaroos belong to the same class of animals.
What do koalas look like?
A koala bear can be easily recognized by its rounded head, large ears, wide nose, short and gray body, and cute little dark eyes.
Koalas possess strong and sharp claws that help them climb trees. Even though people brand koala as a bear because of its close resemblance to a teddy bear, koalas are not actually born.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, koalas are marsupials.
And just like other marsupials, koalas have a pouch that serves as the home for their cubs for the first six months of their lives.
After that period, baby koalas ride on their mama’s back for several months and then climb on trees for the rest of their lives.
What do koalas eat?
What is the typical koala food? Koala bears are called herbivores because they solely depend on leaves and plant materials for food in order to survive. Koalas are very selective in what kind of plant species they are going to consume.
They mainly feed on the eucalyptus plant and will consume leaves from other tree species like tea trees and waffle trees every once in a while.
The Koala diet consists mainly of eucalyptus leaves and shoots that grow from the ground. Koalas also eat eucalyptus flowers.
This animal also eats the bark of the eucalyptus tree occasionally.
Because the eucalyptus tree has low nutrient content, koala bears eat 1 to 1.5 pounds of plant materials each day. This is the main source of water and nutrients in the koala diet.
Although eucalyptus possesses a deadly phenolic compound that can injure other foraging animals, koalas gut are home to special kinds of symbiotic microorganisms that help this animal digest the phenolic compound very fast without causing any harm to the koalas.
Koala bears have a very slow rate of metabolism, that’s why they eat for four hours and stay still for the next 16 to 18 hours each day to facilitate the digestion of food.
What do baby koalas eat?
Now, here is an interesting fact about koalas. What do baby koalas eat? Sure thing, because koalas are considered mammals, mother koalas breastfeed their cubs during the first months of their existence, just like humans do.
But milk feeding is just temporary, baby koalas or joey has to learn to consume eucalyptus leaves. Mother koalas have to prepare their joey’s gut in consuming the deadly phenolic substance found on the leaves.
Mother koalas do this by giving their young a supply of live microorganisms.
They feed their joey their feces or poo. This special type of poo is called pap, a soft runny substance being excreted by a mother koala from its anus intended to be eaten by its joey, 6-7 months from birth.
Do koalas eat bamboo?
Pandas eat bamboo. Do koalas eat bamboo too? According to expert zoologists, koalas consume eucalyptus leaves, but not bamboo leaves. They live in Australia, in areas the eucalyptus tree grows optimally.
Koalas seldom leave the eucalyptus tree which is their habitat for the rest of their lives. They usually sleep 18 hours a day so it is impossible for them to look for another source of food, not even a bamboo tree.
What do koalas drink?
The word koala was derived from an aboriginal term that literally means ‘no drink’. Does this mean that koalas do not drink water at all? Not really! In fact, koalas do drink water.
They usually get the water required by their body from their diet which is mainly composed of eating eucalyptus leaves and from the dew and rainwater deposited on the leaf surfaces.
Even though it is very seldom that a koala drinks water directly from a source, there are reports which confirm that koalas do drink water during extremely hot weather where moisture content on leaves is very low.
They even drink on a water bowl when offered by wildlife rescuers.
Where do koalas live?
Koalas are endemic to eastern and southeastern Australia. They spend their lives climbing on eucalyptus trees foraging on eucalyptus leaves for more than 4 hours a day.
Awesome facts about koalas
Here are some facts about koalas that you might be interested in:
- Koalas are known to be nocturnal marsupials, meaning they spend the daytime sleeping on eucalyptus trees. In fact, they sleep for more or less 18 hours every day!
- Because they have a very sedentary lifestyle and a very small brain size, koalas survive on eating eucalyptus leaves – which has a very low nutrient content.
- Koalas eat leaves during night time. The word koala was derived from an aboriginal term that literally means ‘no drink’ because people rarely notice koalas drinking directly from a source. But koalas get dehydrated during extremely hot weather so from time to time, they search for a source of water to prevent excessive water loss.
- Because eucalyptus contains small amounts of nutrients, koalas are obliged to consume a large amount of foliage every day. They need to eat at least 1 kilogram of leaves each day. They even store some leaves in their pouches and in their cheeks to ensure that snacks won’t be missed.
- Because of being voracious eaters, koalas can easily exhaust a forest of eucalyptus trees. Conservation groups have been working to move multitudes of koala population to greener pastures to avoid koala extinction due to starvation.
- Koalas’ digestive system harbors beneficial microorganisms that help these animals detoxify its diet.
- Because they eat eucalyptus for all of their lives, koalas have a very strong eucalyptus scent which helps them drive away parasites like fleas and ticks that tend to congregate on their thick fur.
- Although they look like slow movers, koalas are expert swimmers. They can easily cross a wide river just to escape heavy floods.