Koala

(Phascolarctos cinereus)

There is no mistaking one of Australia’s most iconic animals when you see one, and the Otways is one of the best places in Australia to see a koala in the wild.

  • Photo Credit: Sarah Scholtes i

DESCRIPTION

Koalas may look like cute teddy bears, but they actually have quite large claws, can be aggressive if approached, and are more closely related to a wombat than a bear.

To spot one, look out for the grey fur, white patch on their belly, round black nose and fluffy ears. And make sure you look up! It is likely it will be asleep high up in a Eucalyptus tree, with its bottom wedged into a fork in the branches, so it doesn’t fall out.

Koalas sleep for 18 to 20 hours per day, mainly because their food (the Eucalyptus leaves) is so hard to digest. It can take over a week from the time a koala eats a leaf, to when it turns up in their poo!

Koalas have one joey per year, which is born tiny, blind and pink with no fur. The young crawls into its mother’s pouch where it stays for up to six months to drink milk and grow up in safety. You may see an older joey clinging on to its mother’s back until it’s able to look after itself.

Koalas are found in Eucalyptus woodlands up and down the east coast of Australia, from Queensland to NSW, Victoria and South Australia. Still, their numbers have been declining in areas inhabited by humans- particularly due to bushfires, land clearing for houses and farms, as well as deaths from cars, and pet dogs.

Koalas are relatively abundant in the Otways as the population was boosted by the addition of koalas introduced from French Island.

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