Koalas are possibly our most iconic native animals; instantly recognisable worldwide as a symbol of Australia and found nowhere else.
Perched high in gum trees, with their stocky, tailless body, large heads and fluffy ears, Koalas live almost entirely on eucalyptus leaves, which are tough to digest. As a result they’ve developed a very slow metabolism to save energy – in fact they can sleep for up to 20 hours a day!
Koalas are not social animals – in fact they’re territorial and adults will generally only tolerate each other when breeding. Mature males have a dark mark in the middle of their chests, which are scent glands that they rub on trees to mark their territory.
Koalas can live 13 to 18 years in the wild, and have few natural predators. A joey the size of a kidney bean will be born 35 days after mating. It will crawl to its mother’s teat, relying on its strong arms and sense of smell and touch. There it will stay attached for 13 weeks and won’t open its eyes until week 22. At around 7 months they will start climbing on their mothers’ backs and will be independent by their first birthday.