Koala Bears

Koala Bears


Koala Bears Characteristics

Name: Koala
Popular Nome: Koala Bear
Scientific name: Phascolarctos cinereus
Geographic distribution: Southeast and Northeast of Australia
Natural habitat: Eucalyptus forest
Alimentary habits: Eucalyptus leaves                                                                    
Size: The length can vary between 60 up to 90 cm.
Weight: Kg can vary enters 7 up to 12 kg.
Period of gestation: 35 days.
Number of babies: 1
Average of life time: 17 years.

FILO: Chordata
SUBFILO: Vertebrate
CLASS: mamalia
ORDER: Marsupialia


Phascolarctos cinereus adustus (Queensland),
Phascolarctos cinereus cinereus (New South Wales) 
Phascolarctos cinereus Victor (Victoria)


The name "koala" derives from the Aboriginal dialect and means "not drinking." The scientific name derives from the Greek words "phaskolon" ( "pocket") and "arktos" ( "bear") and the Latin word "cinereus (color of gray).

SUBORDER: Vombatiformes
FAMILY: Phalangeridae
WEIGHT: males above 12 kg - female: 8 kg

Koalas are part of the marsupial family. There is only one koala species, but there are three subspecies, of koalas –

Victoria KoalaVictoria Koala (Southern Koala)

New South Wales Koala New South Wales Koala

Northern Koala Queens land Koalas Northern Koala

Scientific name is Phascolarctos cinereus of the order of the Marsupialia (Marsupials) and the Phalangeridae family. Marsupials are also mammals. Mammals are animals that are warm blooded, have fur or hair on their bodies and feed on their mother’s milk.                                                         Koalas are tame and shy marsupials. They really have an appearance of a teddy bear and are very cute. 

The males range in size from 60 to 90 cm and females are slightly smaller, weighing up to 15kg.  They have a compact and chubby body; Pelage is soft, grey, merged in the dorsal and ventral white in the region of the body. The head is rounded and the ears are large and hairy, they have small eyes and a big nose which is usually black and has no hair.

They pass most of the day chewing eucalypt leaves, therefore they smell like eucalypt. They are calm and harmless, their only weapon against the aggressors is to growl. Their slow movements parallel the sloth.

As all the marsupials, the koala has an abdominal bag – “the marsupial pouch”-, where the cub stays after birth, during six months. When the cubs leave the marsupial, they stay for six months on the back of their mother. The marsupial of the koala has a rear opening. The koala rarely goes on the ground. Excellent at climbing, they jump with security from one branch to another; they are skilled climbers and can climb smooth trees trunks easily and quickly.  They are also excellent swimmers, and cross rivers to survive from strong floods or predators.  They are reluctant to go down to the ground, but occasionally do this to lick the land, possibly to help digestion.

Koalas have pear- shaped bodies that provide them with good balance for perching tree limbs. They are rather short and stubby but they have long, powerful arms and legs. These give them the strength they need for climbing.

They have great coordination as they leap from branch to branch.

Koalas are covered with thick, gray fur. Their fur is thick enough to be almost waterproof.

Their fur changes to adapt to the different temperatures in their environment. Woolly waterproof coats keep them warm in cold weather and dry in rain.

When the seasons change and the weather warms up they can shed some of their fur to stay cool. They also have white fur on the underside of their forearms. The rest of their coat is either gray or brown.

Their coloring blends in well with the eucalyptus tree bark. Their spotted rump also creates a natural camouflage that helps them hide in the trees. Their ears look fluffy and are covered with long, white hair.  Koalas have big ears that are covered with hair. They all have a rounded, leathery nose. Koalas also have tail- but it is almost too short to see.

Koalas grow to be about 2 feet tall and can weigh from 10 to 30 pounds.

They have white chins and white chests.

The Victoria and the New South Wales Koalas live in the southern part of Australia where the weather is cool.

The Victoria koala is the largest. The New South Wales is the middle size of three kinds. Both of these southern koalas have thick fur to keep them warm. The color of their coat is brown.

The smallest koala subspecies is the Queensland. It is found in Australia’s warm northern region. Because of the warmer temperatures where it lives, it has short – haired fur. Its coat is a light shade of gray.

Koalas have thick, brownish gray fur to help protect them from rain and wind. The fur on a koala’s bottom is extra thick to create a “cushion” that provides a comfortable seat when a koala is resting. The cushion fur has spots that camouflage the koala’s bottom. It is very difficult to see a koala when you look up into a tree.

The tail is small and stumpy, so it does not get in the way when the koala is resting on branches.

A koala’s pouch opens to the rear. A special muscle controls the opening. When a mother tightens the muscle, the pouch closes. Her baby is kept safe inside the pouch and cannot fall out.

Koala’s senses

A koala relies mostly on its senses of smell and hearing. With its sense of smell, it can find and choose eucalyptus leaves to eat.  There is a strong sense of hearing that helps it keep in touch with other koalas.

The koala’s body

Koala with baby koala


Koalas live out in the open, on tree branches. Thick, waterproof fur protects them against rain and too much heat or cold.


Only the female koala has a pouch, where her baby lives while it is young. The pouch is hidden from view on the front of her lower body. Whatever the weather outside, the pouch is always warm and protected.


The koala climbs with its body upright, holding on by its arms and legs. Long strong thigh muscles make its legs more powerful than most other animals of its size.


Long, sharp claws press into and grip the bark and branches.


A koala’s nose is very large because its sense of smell is its most important sense. Before it will taste a eucalyptus leaf, the koala sniffs it to be certain that it is safe to eat. They also use  their sense of smell to keep track of other koalas.

The koala has a very good sense of smell. The nose looks like bare skin but it is covered with very fine hairs.

A koala’s nose is very large because its sense of smell is its most important sense. Before it will taste a eucalyptus leaf, the koala sniffs it to be certain that it is safe to eat. They also use its sense of smell to keep track of other koalas.


Koalas have small eyes. They do not need very good vision because they do not have to watch out for predators when they are in the trees.
Since they eat leaves instead of animals, they do not need good vision for hunting, either.


Big, furry, pale – fringed ears provide keen hearing.


Koalas have powerful jaws equipped with 30 teeth for chewing. Their teeth are well adapted to deal with their diet of tough leaves. Their scissor – sharp front teeth help them shred the tough eucalyptus leaves. Flat back teeth enable them to grind and mash their meal before swallowing it.

On the move

Koalas are good climbers, but they move awkwardly on the ground. They can run quickly if they have to, but they usually walk at a slow pace. Koalas are also able to swim.


Climbing is easy for koalas. First they dig their front claws into the bark of the eucalyptus tree for a strong hold. Then they push themselves upward with their back paws, and grab the tree again with their front claws. The pads on the bottom of their front and back paws prevent them from slipping and falling. Sharp claws help koalas hold onto a branch, even a very shinny one.
 It is very important for koalas to keep a tight grip; because koalas climb very high into these trees, often 150 feet!
The reason they climb so high is to have plenty of fresh eucalyptus leaves to eat and also to be safe.

The Perfect paws

Koalas have four things that help them climb trees – “their paws”

A koala has” two thumbs” on each of its front paws and one on each hind paw.

These thumbs and the rough pads on its palms help the koala get a firm grip on branches. Sharp claws on each toe dig into tree bark and keep the koala from blinding down the tree.

Koala’s Front Paw

Koala Front Paw

The five toes on the front paws are separated into sections, one made up of two toes and the other of three. A koala can use these two sets of toes to firmly grip branches.

The koala has two “thumbs” on its front paws. They help grip branches. The sharp, curved claws on all four paws dig into branches.

Koala’s back paw

Koala back paw

A koala’s back paws have two joined toes, which the koala uses to groom its hair.
The toes on the back paws are spread far apart to wrap around boughs. Padding on the bottom of each paw stops the koala from slipping.

The skeleton

Koala Bear Skeletal StructureKoala Bear Drawing
The koala is known for its massive skull, strong jaws and large clawed feet. It is perfectly designed for life in the trees.

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