Before Europeans first settled there, the island nation of Australia had been all but disconnected from the rest of the world for millions of years. With no contact with the planet’s other animal populations, the wildlife there began to go down its own evolutionary path. Because of this, Australia is home to some of the most unusual creatures on the planet. It is also home to some of the most adorable. The koala is known throughout the world for its cute appearance and visitors in their millions visit the island just to get close to one.
Of course, koalas are wild animals and are perfectly adapted to living in their environment. They feed mostly on the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, which are both low in nutritional value and toxic. The koala has evolved to feed on this food, so is able to get what it needs while also not falling ill. Being well adapted to the environment, they are able to survive quite comfortably even in extreme heat.
These adorable creatures have fascinated us for generations, and we have been lucky to learn a great deal about them. In learning more about them, we have also discovered some amazing facts.
Koala Fact #10: Not Bears
Koalas are often called koala bears. It is easy to see why, given their cuddly, teddy bear like appearance. Despite their name and appearance, however, they are not bears at all. Instead, they are marsupials, belonging firmly in the same family group as kangaroos, wombats and opossums. More specifically, they are a member of the vombatiform family, with wombats in particular as very close relatives. It is also the only surviving member of the Phascolarctidae family.
They are rotund, thick set animals with a fluffy appearance and ears that help to give them their adored appearance. Their thick fur also helps to add to their aesthetic appeal, as they look as though they are something that you just want to hug. Their habit of holding onto tree trunks also means that they tend to ‘hug’ people when held. If you are hoping to have one as a pet, however, then you will be disappointed because it is not legal to keep one.