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The Animal That Thrives Off of Poison

Koala

The amiable koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), which can often be found sleeping while clinging on to trees, may resemble a teddy bear but is instead a herbivorous marsupial (marsupials are endemic to Australia and Americas, and their main characteristic is they carry their young in a pouch). Being ...
| Didem Firtina | Issue 141 (May - Jun 2021)

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Koala: The Animal That Thrives Off of Poison

In This Article

  • Thanks to the special qualities given to its digestive organs, the koala is not only protected against the toxic effects of eucalyptus oils but also can get sufficient amounts of food and water from eucalyptus leaves.
  • Koalas move very slowly; their metabolic rate of is very low and this helps it to keep the fermented materials and particles longer in its stomach. Thus, digestion progresses slowly.
  • The heat insulation of the animal is adjusted with the longer protective strands and shorter thick hairs of the fur who lengths vary depending on the season.

The amiable koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), which can often be found sleeping while clinging on to trees, may resemble a teddy bear but is instead a herbivorous marsupial (marsupials are endemic to Australia and Americas, and their main characteristic is they carry their young in a pouch). Being a symbol of Australia, koalas typically have a body length of 23 - 33 inches and weigh roughly 9 - 33 pounds. It is easy to recognize it thanks to its stout round body, a large head, large ears, and a spoon-shaped nose. Its fur is extremely thick, dense, and soft. Its legs are long and it has paws with sharp nails to help the animal climb trees easily.

The koala lives in eucalyptus forests and feeds on eucalyptus leaves that are toxic to other mammalians. As a matter of fact, these trees are an all-purpose system of sustenance for koalas, designed as a magnificent cradle that offers not only shelter but also food and water. The koala prefers to feed on the leaves of only 35 of more than 600 species of eucalyptus available in Australia. An adult koala eats in the same tree as long as a day. In other words, it does not have to hunt for sustenance – eucalyptus trees offer virtually all of its nourishment in its immediate vicinity. Due to the low energy content of the eucalyptus diet, the koala is largely sedentary. It sleeps on a tree for a significant portion of the day, approximately 20 hours. It climbs down only to climb another tree.


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