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Koala, eastern and southern Australia, 70–90 cm (28–35 inches) long The koala is a type of marsupial from eastern and southern Australia. It is often mistakenly called a koala bear because of its similarity to a small bear. Koalas live in trees, feeding only on eucalypt leaves and shoots. Excellent climbers, they grip tree trunks and branches with their sharp claws and rarely come down to the ground. They spend three-quarters of their day sleeping, stirring only as dusk falls. They even have extra thick fur and a pad of fat on their bottoms, providing them with internal "cushions" to sit on tree branches more comfortably.

{alt}A koala{more}Click to play video


Koalas feed almost entirely on eucalypt trees. In fact they eat so many leaves each day that they actually smell of eucalypt—a smell more familiar to us as cough drops. Koalas eat up to 500 grams (1.1 pounds) of eucalypt leaves each day. They chew them up in their powerful jaws until the leaves are turned into fine paste before swallowing. Koalas are fussy eaters. Of the 600 species of eucalypt in Australia, koalas will eat only 20.

The koala is the only mammal other than primates to have fingerprints. Koala fingerprints are similar to human fingerprints.

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