If there’s a most loved animal in the world, it may just be Koalas. They may also be one of the most misunderstood animals in all of Australia! These too-cute-to-be-real animals have picked up a few myths during their herbivore lives. How many have you fallen for? We’ve set the record straight just in time for Wild Koala Day (May 3rd). Here are our top 5 debunked myths about Koalas!
While the mental image of a Koala as a giddy party animal is hilarious, alas it simply is not true. Though toxic to most other animals, eucalyptus leaves are neither alcoholic nor drug-like. Koalas have adapted to eat this plant, but it still takes an enormous amount of energy to digest. The low nutritional value of this food source forces Koalas to conserve energy whenever possible, napping for up to 20 hours a day. Talk about a prolonged food coma!
Rumour has it… that Koalas only eat one type of gum-tree. Koalas have actually been known to eat leaves from dozens of gum-tree species and other trees native to Australia. This misconception was likely fueled by strong regional preferences and an increasing reliance on nearby trees. Koalas use a diverse and interconnected system of trees for their habitat. They are social creatures that establish home territories that they return to throughout their lives.
When they are awake, Koala’s are fairly agile animals and particularly skillful climbers. Their ground speed reaches 32 km per hour (20 mph) and they can leap up trees in 2-metre spurts when frightened. These speeds and movements are similar to rabbits. They may appear immobile at first glance, but Koalas are nocturnal animals who do most of their moving at night.
Nope! Koalas are not even close to being bears in the animal kingdom. European settlers thought these unusual animals looked similar to bears and the name stuck. The fluffy fur and tendency to have their likeness used for toys are where the koala and bear similarities end. Koalas are in fact marsupials – animals that birth their young live and nurture them in a pouch!
Ever heard of the rabid man-eating super Koala that drops from the trees to attack unwitting travelers? Oh, how Australian’s love to tease! This is one of those stories that got a little out of hand. While there are Ice Age era predators that resemble this hoax, the only thing getting snared in this day and age is gullible tourists.