The Koala is an arboreal (tree dwelling) marsupial with fur ranging from grey to brown above, and is white below. It has large furry ears, a prominent black nose and no tail. It spends most of its time in trees and has long, sharp claws, adapted for climbing. Adult males weigh 6 – 12 kg and adult females weigh 5 – 8 kg. During breeding, males advertise with loud snarling coughs and bellows.
The Koala has a fragmented distribution throughout eastern Australia from north-east Queensland to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. In NSW it mainly occurs on the central and north coasts with some populations in the west of the Great Dividing Range. It was briefly historically abundant in the 1890s in the Bega District on the south coast of NSW, although not elsewhere, but it now occurs in sparse and possibly disjunct populations. Koalas are also known from several sites on the southern tablelands.
Habitat and ecology
- Inhabit eucalypt woodlands and forests.
- Feed on the foliage of more than 70 eucalypt species and 30 non-eucalypt species, but in any one area will select preferred browse species.
- Inactive for most of the day, feeding and moving mostly at night.
- Spend most of their time in trees, but will descend and traverse open ground to move between trees.
- Home range size varies with quality of habitat, ranging from less than two ha to several hundred hectares in size.
- Generally solitary, but have complex social hierarchies based on a dominant male with a territory overlapping several females and sub-ordinate males on the periphery.
- Females breed at two years of age and produce one young per year.