That’s exactly what many kids think of when they see a certain adorable Australian animal. What are we talking about? Koalas, of course!
Koalas live in the plentiful eucalyptus trees of eastern Australia. They are good climbers that can easily leap from one treetop to another. Their sharp claws allow them to hold on tight to branches while they sleep.
Eucalyptus leaves and their oils contain toxins that will make most animals sick if they eat them. Koalas, however, have special digestive systems that allow them to break down the tough leaves and filter out the toxins.
This digestive process takes time and energy, though. This leads most koalas to feed at night and sleep up to 16 or more hours each day. Koalas may appear to be lazy, sleeping in eucalyptus trees all day, but they’re actually getting the rest their bodies need to digest their food!
There used to be millions of koalas. In the 1920s, though, koalas were hunted for their fur. Today, koalas are protected in Australia, but they still face threats from dogs, automobile traffic, and destruction of their eucalyptus forests. Researchers estimate there are about 100,000 koalas alive today.