Wildlife - Koalas

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Koala

  • SUMMARY

The Koala is one of the few mammals (other than primates) that has fingerprints. Similar to human fingerprints; even with an electron microscope, it can be quite difficult to distinguish between the two.

The Koala has large, sharp claws to assist with climbing tree trunks and their weight varies from 5kg to 14kg between the large southern male and the small northen female koalas. Their five fingers are arranged with opposable thumbs, providing better gripping ability.

The teeth of koalas are adapted to their herbivorous diet, and are similar to those of other diprotodont marsupials, such as kangaroos and wombats. The Koala will eat the leaves of a wide range of eucalypts, and occasionally even some non-eucalypt species, but it has firm preferences for particular varieties. These preferences vary from one region to another: in the south Manna Gum, Blue Gum and Swamp Gum are favoured; Grey Gum and Tallowwood are important in the north, and the ubiquitous River Red Gum of the isolated seasonal swamps and watercourses that meander across the dry inland plains allows the Koala to exist in surprisingly arid areas. Many factors determine which of the 800 species of eucalypt trees the Koala eats.