Description and features
The wood animal of the koala is considered the personification of the whole continent — Australia, it is found only on this continent and is closely associated with it. It has extremely interesting features of appearance and behavior. This is a small, dense creature about 70 cm tall, resembling a small bear in appearance.
The weight of even the most impressive males usually does not exceed 14 kg, but some females are much smaller and have a mass of only 5 kg. Like many endemics of its continent, koalas are marsupial mammals, that is, they have a special skin bag on their belly, in which mothers wear out their cubs.
The body of such animals is covered by soft thick fur, whose hair length is about 2 cm or slightly more. The shade of it can be very diverse and depends on the habitat. On the back, it is always darker: red, red or gray-smoky. But the tummy is color, as a rule, lighter.
Koalas are distinguished by a flat muzzle, large head, small eyes and mobile furry, rounded ears. In addition, they have an unobtrusive tail because of their small size.
A very important element in the appearance of these wood animals from nature is their mobile paws, with powerful, durable claws, allowing them to masterfully climb trees. Developed limb limbs in koalas from an early age, when the cubs, clutching the back of the mother, are not lost, thus following the route of movement, as a single whole with it.
Extremely remarkable is the structure of the fingers of both extremities. The front ones are equipped with a pair of grasping fingers, apart from the others located.
Only four fingers on the hind legs are endowed with claws, unlike a large one, which does not have such a pointed tip. It is interesting that, like the human, all the koala’s fingers are marked with individual patterns of pads — prints.
Now the koala in Australia is considered a pride and one of its symbols. But other times are also remembered, when European settlers just settled in this continent. They were then extremely attracted by the rare beauty of the furs of such creatures. And for this reason, the population of animals, which were ruthlessly hunted, was subjected to considerable extermination and was pushed out of habitual habitats.
To date, such animals are found mainly in the southern and eastern regions of the continent. In addition, according to scientists, modern descendants of the data of fauna of the continent significantly degraded in comparison with their ancestors.
The volume of their brain also decreased, which had a very negative effect on their intelligence, moreover — even on the natural skills of self-preservation. For example, modern koalas, accustomed to looking for salvation from any trouble in the trees, during the hours of spontaneously arising fires do not even suspect that it is more reasonable to get off them and run. Seeing the fire, they only tremble and huddle against the trunks of eucalyptus, among which the koalis live, for some reason seeking salvation in them.
Types of koalas
The term of existence on the Earth koalas, as a family of ancient marsupials, on the representation of scientists, is estimated at 30 million years. But in those years that have sunk into oblivion, far away, its representatives looked somewhat different.
And many of them could boast of sizes exceeding the size of modern animals from this family in a couple of dozen times. All this is proved by the fossil remains of these creatures. Especially a lot of such finds have appeared in the southern regions of Australia.
Also many such fossils are found in Queensland — one of the states of the continent. In this part of the planet koals live now: they are not more than 9 kg by weight and have a gray color. But in the state of Victoria, modern animals of this type are found larger. And they have a predominantly chocolate shade of fur.
It should be noted that, regardless of the size of these animals that live in a particular locality, males are significantly different in size from females, more specifically, they exceed twice the body length and weight.
Koala in the form in which there is on the planet now, appeared back only 15 million years. She is considered to be a relative of the wombat. This is also a very ancient Australian inhabitant, an animal similar to a koala on many grounds. It in modern form also resembles a small bear, though still a little larger than the described animal.
To date, the koala is considered to be the only representative of the family of koalas and is assigned to the same species, which is called in another way: the marsupial bear. Although purely biological and genetically with bears in kinship, such animals are not at all. Koala in the photo perfectly demonstrates all the funny and very nice external features of these animals.
Lifestyle and habitat
These are the inhabitants of eucalyptus forests. Among the thickets of such trees, moving along their trunks, branches and crowns, such creatures spend all the days of their existence, from the first to the last. On the ground koalas are also quite capable of moving, although not very well. Down they descend, if only it arises by the desire to move in a similar way to another tree.
During the day these animals usually rest, so at this time of day one can observe only the sleeping koala among the eucalyptus branches. But even during waking hours, they are not particularly active. These creatures are very lazy, it is believed that in a stationary state they spend up to twenty hours a day.
The only thing they can do skillfully, quickly and skillfully is climbing trees, masterfully jumping from one branch to another. On the tops of eucalyptus, they usually escape and from ill-wishers. Also, these animals are able to swim well.
A great desire to communicate with a similar koala is not experienced. An exception is only the periods of reproduction, the code they are forced by the call of nature to seek a partner. However, at other times there are some differences in the behavior of different sexes.
Female individuals prefer to settle only in a certain area, usually without leaving their pre-selected sites. There they peacefully exist, not strongly reacting to what is happening around, engaged only in a long sleep and care of filling the stomach.
Males are not particularly attached to their territories. And in them the craving for near-travels sometimes wakes up. And when they meet with each other, they not only do not experience special joy, but also are capable of starting a fight. Such disassembly is all the more relevant in the period of mating games. And at such a time for the bully, these massacres can become more than not harmless.
But for people such creatures do not pose a danger, therefore they are kept without special precautions in some zoos. After all, for koala visitors it’s a teddy bear of small size, a small animal with a pretty funny appearance that attracts their attention. Sterech such inhabitants in cages is almost unnecessary because of the lack of natural craving for active movement.
There is a case when one marsupial teddy named Mundu tried to escape from the zoo in San Diego, but did not particularly succeed in his search for freedom. The matter is that the koala, aspiring to the unknown world, fell asleep on the road. Thus, the adventurer did not give the workers of the zoo excessive trouble.
True, the content of such animals in captivity still has its unpleasant side, and sometimes it really is difficult because of the characteristics of their food, which will be further discussed.
In food such animals are able to consume practically only one plant in the world — eucalyptus. They eat its shoots and leaves. But this representative of the flora contains in its composition not enough protein, but in excess it is filled with harmful, even poisonous substances and elements.
And the last components are so many that the dose of them is quite capable of exceeding the permissible, leading to death. It should be noted that many of the animal species on this diet would definitely not have the ability to survive. But what about the koala?
The secret is that as food they choose only certain types of favorite eucalyptus. But this is not an easy matter. To distinguish a poisonous plant among others helps koalas with their highly developed sense of smell.
For this reason, to keep the home koala, even despite the peaceful, inactive nature of this animal and a very pretty appearance, is quite difficult. Of the eight hundred varieties of eucalyptus, they are able to feed without sacrificing their own body for less than a sixth of them.
And in captivity, this choice is significantly reduced. The owners, being people, do not have enough developed sense organs and knowledge to provide their pets with a full-fledged food. Therefore, koalis, forced from hunger to use anything, are often poisoned to death.
The sluggishness of these animals should also be explained by the peculiarities of nutrition. As already mentioned, in a sufficient amount of protein their diet does not contain. Hence, a very slow metabolism due to the low nutritional value of the dishes consumed.
On the day of this animal, about a kilogram of eucalyptus leaves is needed, which it thoroughly crushes with its teeth, in all respects adapted specifically for this type of food. Required for the body, the moisture of the koala is also obtained from its favorite plant, as well as the dew that forms on it.
Reproduction and life expectancy
Completely matures to continue the genus of the koala, usually to three years. At the same time, female individuals are formed on all grounds somewhat earlier than males. But the first full mating for such animals usually comes only at the age of four.
As we already know, these creatures do not have a close relationship with each other during normal periods. Therefore, when the time of reproduction is coming (this comes once a year), the males begin the data-driven process with conscription screams.
These sounds, which are far worn around the area, are not only designed to serve as signals that attract females who live next door. It is assumed that these screams should scare off other applicants.
If the coition was successful, pregnancy comes, and the koala mums of their cubs are not long, only about 35 days. Especially prolific females of these creatures can not be called. The litter usually consists of one newborn marsupial bear. But in some cases, twins may appear.
The peculiarity of marsupial mammals is, as you know, the birth of underdeveloped cubs, which are then worn by females in a skin bag on the abdomen. Newborn koalas have a weight of only half a gram, and in length are less than 2 cm.
But such a state does not mean non-viability. Such kids are smart enough and immediately after birth they themselves get into the mother’s skin pocket. There they continue their development, eating, as it should be, maternal milk.
At the age of six months, small followers of the genus koal begin to gradually move on to adult nutrition, that is, the eucalyptus diet. For a start, the mother herself chews on them leaves and shoots, feeding such a light diet, pretty spiced her saliva, endowed with disinfectant properties. This helps the gradual development of normal digestion in toddlers.
Then the offspring finally leaves the bag. It happens somewhere at the age of seven months. For a while the cub still lives right on the mother. He exists behind her, clutching her back with his claws. By the year the offspring are practically becoming independent, but trying to keep away from the mother in the near future just in case a couple more months.
In captivity, koalis, when properly nourished, can survive to 18 years of age. But in natural conditions, this happens rarely. In fact, in nature, such animals do not have so many enemies. Usually, except for wild dogs and humans, no one attacks them.
But these creatures have extremely weak, painful organisms, and therefore without veterinary supervision and special treatment often die prematurely. Under normal conditions, when living in wild eucalyptus forests, the lifespan of the koalas can, as a rule, not exceed 13 years.