Fun Facts About Koalas (Save the Koala Day 9/27)

Think you know everything about these cute, furry critters? Think again!

  • Believe it or not, koalas aren’t bears, despite the fact that their scientific name – Phascolarctos cinereus – roughly means “grey pocket bear.” They don’t hibernate in the winter or make their homes in caves. They’re actually marsupials, a kind of mammal that carries their young in pouches on their belly. Think of the kangaroo and possum – they do that, too.
  • The word “koala” means “no water”! This doesn’t mean they never drink water – they just don’t do it as much as us. That’s because eucalyptus leaves keep their bodies hydrated.
  • Think your cat sleeps a lot? Their napping habits are nothing compared to koalas. These guys don’t hesitate to rest for 18-20 hours a day! Compare that to a domestic cat’s typical 16 hours of sleep a day.
  • But before you call these guys lazy or boring, consider this – koalas have to sleep as long as they do because the eucalyptus leaves they eat contain toxins and have almost no nutrients. These leaves take a lot of energy to digest, so they sleep it off. Despite what some might think, koalas don’t “get high” or “feel drugged” on these leaves.
  • Just because koalas like to catch up on sleep, doesn’t mean they don’t have time to pop up in popular culture. Famous koalas have included Nom Nom from We Bare Bears, Roobear from Adventures of the Little Koala, Kwicky Koala from Hanna-Barbera’s The Kwicky Koala Show, and Leonard from The Penguins of Madagascar.
  • Until she passed in 2001, Sarah was the oldest koala around. Koalas typically live 12-16 years, but this old girl made it to the sprightly age of 23. She hung out at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Queensland, Australia, for much of her life.
  • Koalas are Australian natives, typically found in South Australia, new South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria.
  • Newborn koalas are the size of a jellybean (about half an inch). Talk about tiny! Once the baby is born, the mom carries them in her pouch for around six months.
  • Koala and human fingerprints look exactly the same. That means if you put a koala fingerprint next to a human fingerprint, even a forensic expert could be fooled.
  • These guys have hearty appetites – just one koala can put away up to two and a half pounds of eucalyptus leaves a day.