Australia is a fairly isolated country in terms of the rest of the world’s major land masses. As a result of this isolation, 80% of the wildlife is endemic, or only found, in this country. Some of these exotic species include wallabies, platypus, and the famed kangaroos. While the kangaroo may be the favorite of many, it was the koala that won my heart!
The koala bear, despite its misleading name, is actually a marsupial, or pouched mammal. It’s only called a “bear” because of its teddy bear like appearance.
These furry little creatures require up to 20 hours of sleep a day. (Sometimes I feel like I need that much sleep, too!) It’s a common misconception that their unusual sleeping pattern is a result of getting intoxicated from the eucalyptus leaves, which are their only source of food. But really, eucalyptus leaves are low in nutritional value and high in fiber. As a result, koalas sleep to conserve energy.
As an animal lover, I was excited to hold a koala during my Aussie adventure. However, I learned that koalas are not very social animals. Since they require so much sleep, cuddling or even touching a koala will disrupts its slumber. This can cause it a great deal of stress – sometime resulting in illness, or even death. I definitely didn’ want that!!!
My close encounter helped dispel some myths, and also shed light on just how complex the Koala is. It’s no wonder Australia’s wildlife is one of the main reasons tourists visit this country; there are some enchanting creatures here!