Home BiologyTimes Koalas Were Anything But Cute
BiologyBy Trista -

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
These disgusting creatures may be worth saving. Photo Credit: Complex

8. Cute Or Not, Koalas Are Endangered

There are probably fewer than 80,000 koalas today, and some experts suggest less than 43,000. There are several reasons they are on the endangered list. They have been falling prey to habitat loss, as the eucalyptus forests in which they live are particularly prone to damage from changes in temperature and weather patterns. They are also being destroyed to make way for human settlements and agriculture. Koalas are only native to some states within Australia, and those individual states, rather than the national government, are responsible for their preservation. There is little coordinated effort to protect these disgusting creatures.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
Photo Credit: Wired

It has been said there is no legislation that effectively or consistently protects Koala habitat anywhere within Australia. However, this is not necessarily because the bill does not exist, but because there is not always the political will to adequately resource, implement, police, and enforce such legislation. There are four states where koalas occur in the wild. That includes Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. To make matters more challenging, each state has its own legislation. Local government is where most day to day decisions are made about what happens to the koalas’ habitat. However, it is also where there is often the least amount of resources and expertise in wildlife management or habitat assessment.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
It’s not hard to see why their fur would be in high demand. Photo Credit: Standard

7. People Used To Kill Koalas For Their Fur

One of the quintessential features of koalas, apart from their two opposable thumbs on each hand and razor-sharp claws, is their creamy grey fur. Koalas in the southern part of Australia have thicker hair than their northern counterparts to help keep them warm during the colder winters. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people used to kill koalas in large numbers to obtain their fur. Today, hunting koalas is illegal, as they are an endangered species. Still, deforestation, both through fires and cutting down forests for human development, puts the creatures at high risk. It is also a challenge to police hunting koalas.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
Photo Credit: Pinterest

There have been over eight million koalas killed for the fur trade. Their pelts were shipped to London, the United States, and Canada. The koala was hunted as a matter of routine by the early settlers and explorers. The koala’s dense, waterproof pelt made it a valuable commodity on the international fur market, and demand increased accordingly. The koala had been hunted so indiscriminately that it had disappeared from many of its natural habitats. The poor animals were mainly poisoned and trapped as those methods did the least damage to the animal’s desired fur. During this time, the koalas narrowly escaped extinction.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
We may want to keep these disgusting creatures around for a while. Photo: fanpop.com

6. Chlamydia Is Also Threatening Koala Populations

As many as 50 to 90% of female koalas today have chlamydia, and the disease affects koalas more than many other species. Clinics in Australia are working year-round to help koalas suffering from it, but one of its side effects – infertility – could permanently inhibit koala populations. Veterinarians in Australia have their hands full tending to koalas who have chlamydia. Each vet can treat hundreds of koalas per year, but they can barely make a dent in the broad population infected with the disease. Their best hope is to inoculate koalas against chlamydia before they become infertile.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
Photo Credit: Gene Proof

It has been known that some antibiotics produce severe side effects in koalas with chlamydia. The main side effect is that the antibiotics disrupt the gut microbes that enable the digestion of eucalyptus leaves, the dietary staple for koalas. However, recently researchers are looking into two new antibiotic treatments that may offer relief to the furry animal with minimal side effects. Although it is unclear exactly why koalas are so vulnerable to this disease, it is well-known how detrimental it can be to their health. Although there were some side effects with the new antibiotics, they were much less severe compared to what has been known.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
Being pregnant can take its toll on any creature, including koalas. Credit: EcoWatch

5. Koalas Have an Intriguing Gestation Period

The majority of animals have varying gestation periods. Some are very short, while others are relatively lengthy. Baby koalas are also known as joeys. You might be shocked to learn that joeys are delivered while they are still in the embryonic stage of development. At this time, they might only weigh half a gram. At birth, they look a little funny in comparison to what you might expect. You might imagine that they would be tiny, cute, smaller versions of their adult selves. However, they look incredibly opposite of that. In fact, if you saw a koala joey, you may not even be able to identify what it is.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
Photo Credit: Kfvs 12

The koala joeys then take up residence in their mother’s pouch for up to six months. During this time, their main goal is to gain weight and develop into maturity. After a full month in the mother’s pouch, they still are only less than half an inch in length. Once the first six months are up, the baby koala joeys transfer from their mother’s pouch onto their mother’s back. Once there, they will spend another six months being carried around on their mother’s back. They will only go back into their mother’s pouch for nap times and feedings. Altogether, it is well over a year of gestation to fully develop and grow into adult size.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
A koalas digestive system is nothing like other animals. Photo Credit: Biocodex Microbiota Institute

4. A Unique Digestive System

We have talked a little bit about a koala’s diet and how it is primarily eucalyptus leaves. Unlike most animals, koalas have a minimal diet and are extremely picky eaters. It might be surprising to wrap your head around how koalas can only eat one specific type of leaf. We’ve also mentioned how difficult eucalyptus leaves are. They are tough and high in fiber. To effectively consume and digest the eucalyptus leaves, koalas have their very own digestive organ. This specific organ is known as a caecum. Its primary function is to help them digest their diet of eucalyptus leaves.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
Photo Credit: Biointer Active

The organ is critical to koalas and their survival. Generally speaking, eucalyptus is poisonous and cannot be consumed by the majority of animals and humans. If it is finished by someone who does not have the necessary components to digest it, it could have extremely harmful side effects. In koala, the caecum works to detoxify the offending chemicals. By doing this, the substances become delicious and nutritious for koalas. Interestingly, all of the eucalyptus they consume does cause koalas to smell slightly like cough drops. Without this specific organ, the koala would not benefit and survive off of these particular leaves.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
Despite being lazy, these creatures are still fast when they want to get somewhere. Photo Credit: Pinterest

3. Just Because They Are Lazy Doesn’t Mean They Are Slow

Since koalas spend anywhere between 18 and 20 hours a day sleeping, you might assume they are lazy and slow. If they seem incredibly lazy, it’s because they generally are. When you see a koala, the majority of the time, it will be when they are up in the trees. They often appear lethargic in trees as a way to conserve their energy. Their lack of energy is due to their diet. The eucalyptus leaves are high in fiber and provide the nutrients needed for koalas, but in comparison, they are not highly nutritious. However, just because they appear sluggish, you shouldn’t count them out.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
Photo Credit: Pinterest

It doesn’t help that in movies, shoes, and books, koalas are often portrayed as a tree-dwelling, lazy animal. They are not typically seen in action. Koalas are poorly adapted to walking on the ground, so they usually stay up in the trees where they are comfortable. However, when put into the right situation, koalas can break out at a fast pace. If they are frightened or feel threatened, koalas can break into a gallop, moving at speeds of up to 18 miles per hour. Koalas typically lead a slow lifestyle most of the time and rest a lot. However, when they move, they can be fast, agile, and mighty.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
Those trees can be sore on the tushy! Luckily, koalas have cushy butts. Credit: EcoWatch

2. The Many Uses of Koala’s Butts

A koala is often viewed as a cute, cuddly, and adorable Australian animal. As we have learned, there are many aspects of the koala that are unique and critical to their survival. One of the koala’s body parts that has many uses is its’ butt. Now you might wonder what these many uses could be. The koalas’ posteriors play an interesting role in helping them survive and thrive, specifically while perched up in the eucalyptus trees. The fur on their bottoms are densely packed and acts as a cushion while they spend so much time sitting and resting upright in the trees.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
Photo Credit: Pixy Org

In addition to the extra padding cushion from their rear end, the end of their curved spine’s cartilage provides even more padding. All of these extra padding and cushion help koalas make the eucalyptus trees the most comfortable home. I’m sure we can all agree that if we were spending 18 to 20 hours a day sleeping in one spot, we would want to be as comfortable as we possibly could be! Another benefit to their bottom half is its appearance. The koala’s butt is white and speckled, which prevents predators from easily spotting them from the ground.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
They might be cute to look at, but these creatures are anything but pleasant to smell. Credit: CGTN

1. Koalas Are Super Stinky

It is no surprise that wild animals may not smell the best. For starters, they live in the wild and are susceptible to all the elements. They might have to be outside during the rain, cold temperatures, and dirt. Depending on their habits and nature, they may not do the best job at cleaning themselves and therefore put off a little bit of an odor. Koalas are no exception. They have been known to have a bit of a distinctive scent, at least the males do. That doesn’t mean that females or juvenile koalas don’t smell as well, but they may have a very different smell.

Times Koalas Were Anything But Cute
Photo Credit: Cnn

Females and juvenile koalas tend to smell more like eucalyptus cough drops. That is mostly attributed to their diet of eucalyptus leaves. In comparison, male koalas have been said to put off an odor that is pungent compared to eucalyptus leaves. Mature males tend to have a more pungent smell because of their distinguished scent glands. The males will rub their chest up against trees to mark their territory and attract females at breeding time. The scent gland produces a strong, musky odor. Besides, koala joeys are taught to eat different species of trees, so they have a balanced diet and because other leaves act as a natural intellect repellent.

Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

“Interesting Facts,” by Australian Koala Foundation.
“Brutal And Terrifying Facts About Koalas, Who Are Actually Hateful And Miserable Animals,” by Justin Andress. Ranker.

 

Advertisement