Koala on side of tree

Strzelecki Koala

Anatomy - Our incredible Strzelecki Koala is so suited to living in eucalyptus trees. Like all koalas, it has an anatomy that through time, has developed for that purpose. The koala has fur that not only keeps it warm, cool or dry but allows the animal to blend into its habitat. It is very difficult to spot a koala when it is high up in one of its’ favourite trees. Its’ grey, brown and white colouring camouflages the koala. It can snuggle comfortably in the branches because it has a curved skeleton, fewer ribs, no tail, and extra thick fur over a “cartilaginous pad at the base of its spine’’ (www.animalfactsguide.com).

Koala Forepaw - shows claws! Koala Hindpaws - more claws !

The koala’s ability to climb trees is the result of having strong limbs and amazing paws which enable it to pull and push itself up to great heights and through a tree’s canopy. Both sets of paws are covered by fur but the palms are skin that is leathery looking and coarse in texture for traction and robustness. The hind paws have claws on all but one of its digits. Two digits are joined so that the koala can groom itself (www.wildlifecare.org.au). The fore paws have claws on all its separated digits. However what is most remarkable is that its’ fore paws have opposable thumbs like primates. Just like us, the koala can grip things.

Once a koala takes hold of a bunch of leaves, it uses its sharp incisor teeth to tear off eucalyptus leaves, then its molars to crunch and munch as the koala’s tongue retrieves the pulverised leaves from the gaps in between the two types of teeth. After being swallowed, the food enters into the koala’s incredible gut system. Bacteria obtained originally from the pap given by its mother, and a special part of the alimentary canal, “the caecum (pronounced see-kum)’, continue to break down the food so that the koala obtains nutrients and water (www.savethekoala.com). Eventually the koala will pass scats (poo) and wee. It is these scats that help scientists and others to find out many things about koalas, like location, preferred trees and the DNA of individual koalas.

The koala is a unique animal especially our precious Strzelecki koala, and it requires our help. Remember the three “P’s”: Protect, Preserve and Plant. Protection for our Strzelecki koala and its habitat. Please log on to the link to sign a petition to save the Strzelecki koala so that it can be placed on the endangered list. Https:// wwwmelbourne.org.au/koala (As submitted, but clearly wrong. Possibly https://www.melbournefoe.org.au/koala was intended - web ed). Preserve the current population of Strzelecki koala by maintaining its preferred habitat, by being aware of wildlife on the roads particularly at night, by keeping domestic animals away from wildlife, and by becoming involved in local wildlife groups. Plant the Strzelecki koala’s preferred trees and help create much needed wildlife corridors. The South Gippsland community has a brochure about plants (www.sgln.net.au). For more information about the physical characteristics of the koala, go to www.savethekoala.com. There are diagrams of the digestive system and the paws.

Interesting Facts from this site are: Like humans, every koala has its own set of unique fingerprints. Apart from insects, koalas along with the greater sugar glider and ringtail possum are the only animals that eat eucalyptus leaves.