A koala sitting on the ground, inattentive to what is going on around it, is a critically sick koala that need rapid medical treatment. If you reside in the Northern Rivers of NSW, call our Rescue Hotline (6622 1233) or your local wildlife organization (search online for your local wildlife organization).
A healthy koala lounging in a tree top is a happy koala that does not require any medical attention. If you come across a healthy looking koala that appears content, give it some space and let it get back to doing what koalas do best: sleeping, eating, and hanging out with its own kind.
It is very important not to touch or feed a koala. This could be very harmful because you might be feeding a virus or bacteria that can be transmitted to people through your hands or through your food. Koalas are also vulnerable to predators when they are asleep in trees because they are at lower altitude and thus easier for predators to hunt down. Therefore, keep your distance from them and let them rest peacefully.
If you decide to take a photo of a koala, be sure to use a zoom lens and stand far away from the animal. Also, make sure that the koala is not facing away from the camera lens. The last thing you want is to scare the koala or cause it pain by using a flash!
A koala may appear to be little more than a hump on the tree from the ground. The fur of a koala's bottom has a "speckled" look, making it difficult to identify koalas from the ground. Looking down, rather than above, is the best method to find a koala sitting in a tree. A koala will often sit with its head between its paws, looking like a small bear cub.
Koalas are nocturnal animals that eat leaves for their nutrients and water. They also attract insects that prey on those harmful plants. Koalas sleep about 12 hours per day, 6 days a week, usually eating whenever they wake up. Although they appear to be sleeping, koalas are actually very alert and will move away if threatened.
Koalas have no teeth except for a thin strip at the back of their mouth called a jawbone. This structure is used to break up the food they eat into smaller pieces so it can be consumed more easily. The bones of a koala's upper jaw are connected by soft tissue instead of bone; therefore, they are not worn down like real teeth would be.
The average lifespan of a koala is 10 to 14 years. However, some individuals have been known to live as long as 20 years or more. Female koalas give birth only once per year, usually having one baby at a time.
Only one nation in the planet allows you to cuddle a koala: Australia! This remarkable wildlife encounter is only offered in a few sanctuaries and wildlife parks, and visitors are closely regulated to ensure the koalas' health and safety. Scientists believe that since koalas don't get sick or injured like other animals, they must suppress immune systems in order to survive. Therefore, unlike most other mammals, it isn't recommended to hold them because they could catch a cold or virus.
In conclusion, yes, you can cuddle koalas but we recommend that you do so in a safe environment where there are staff around to make sure everything goes well for the koala.
Picking up a koala is illegal in all jurisdictions except Queensland. In most wildlife parks, you can get up close and personal with a koala; park management are well aware that they are the most popular species, the ones that foreign tourists want to see, so they organize feeding schedules and talk about them. However, in some parks, especially on private property where there is no public access, touching or picking up a koala is prohibited.
In Australia, it is an offense to touch any living member of the koala family except when working with a trained professional. This includes holding a koala in the hand or cuddling one too long. Even when working with a trained professional, only certain parts of the animal are handled. Most professionals will tell you that your chance of being bitten by a koala is very high - because they don't like to be touched!
The main reason why people are told not to touch koalas is because they rely on their thick fur to keep them warm; if someone were to grab hold of just their skin, it would be very cold indeed. The koala's unique face-lift behavior is also caused by fear - when they do this they are trying to show other koalas that they are not a threat.
Some people may think that since koalas are not endangered that touching one would not be a crime, but this is not true.
Help the koalas by volunteering. Consider becoming a wildlife rescuer and caretaker with NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education if you are over the age of 18. (WIRES). Echidna Walkabout will provide a Koala Recovery Experience in 2021, during which visitors will be able to plant trees for koalas. Get involved with other people's rescue efforts by joining a group home or sanctuary.
Human assistance has allowed koalas to survive when natural disasters have destroyed their habitat. After the 1998 Australian bushfire season, for example, scientists estimated that fewer than 500 koalas remained alive in the wild. Since then, conservation efforts have helped increase koala populations again. In addition to wildfire, droughts, and insect attacks, koalas are also known to die from being run over by cars. Humans have been helping out by placing callouts on rural roads looking for injured koalas. If they are found hurt, they will usually be taken to a wildlife refuge where they will receive medical attention and be released back into the wild when healthy again.
Koalas have been associated with Australia since 1797, when Dutch explorer Jacob Leeming saw them for the first time. Since then, many discoveries have been made about these unique animals. We know now that koalas are true marsupials, meaning they carry their babies inside their bodies until they are mature enough to leave the nest.