Koalas And Kangaroos: Fun Facts Australia’s Most Beloved Marsupials
Wildlife abounds in the land down under, with more than 100,000 unique species roaming the outback. But none are as famous as the koala and kangaroo—two marsupials that have become synonymous with Australia’s animal kingdom.
Fun fact, these two Australian icons didn’t even originate in Australia—they’re actually South American natives. So what is it about these two adorable creatures that have fascinated animal lovers around the world?
Let’s look at some of the most exciting, unique, and slightly oddball facts about koalas and kangaroos—they might just make you love them even more!
There are Four Species of Kangaroo
Like many animals, the kangaroo family has multiple species: the Red, the Eastern Grey, the Western Grey, and the Antilopine. While the Red kangaroo is the largest of the four, the Eastern Grey is the heaviest.
Regardless of species, a group of kangaroos is referred to as a mob. And with all four species combined, there are more kangaroos living in Australia than humans.
Koalas Aren’t Bears, Contrary to Popular Belief
Perhaps you’ve made the mistake of saying “koala bear” instead of just “koala.” Most of us have. But you should know that koalas aren’t actually bears, despite the “koala-fications” they appear to have. Like kangaroos, koalas are marsupials, which means they keep their young in a pouch until they mature. In fact, koalas have more in common with kangaroos and wombats than they do with bears.
Kangaroos Can Move Faster Than a Racehorse
Red kangaroos can reach top speeds of 65 kilometers per hour or just over 40 miles per hour. That’s fast enough to beat a top-performing racehorse! In a single leap, they can jump higher than three meters (about ten feet) and clear a length of 7.6 meters (about 25 feet).
They’re also the only animal of their size to use hopping as its primary method of transportation.
Koalas’ Main Diet Is Toxic to Other Animals
Koalas are known for munching on eucalyptus and can eat up to 2.2 pounds of it per day. That kind of volume is impressive enough, but what’s even more impressive is that eucalyptus is toxic to most animals.
Koalas have a unique organ, called a caecum that helps them digest fiber and detox the chemicals from the leaves. They’re also highly picky eaters, eating only 50 types of eucalyptus out of about 700. And of those 50 types, koalas will typically climb to the tallest trees, where the eucalyptus has more nutrients and liquid.
Kangaroo and Koala Babies Are Born “Prematurely”
When baby kangaroos and koalas are born, they’re highly underdeveloped. Think of it as the equivalent to a human giving birth at just seven weeks. Once born, the baby lives inside the mother’s pouch while it matures, a process that takes about six months for koalas and about nine months for kangaroos. Here, the baby can get its milk and stay protected from the outside world.
When scared, joeys (baby kangaroos) have been known to dive headfirst into their mother’s pouch.
Kangaroos and Koalas Can Be Aggressive Toward People
They may look cute and cuddly from afar, but make no mistake—kangaroos and koalas are still wild animals in every sense of the word. Even though many may be used to seeing humans, they have been known to show aggression toward humans and other animals.
Many kangaroos are used to seeing people, so much so that some may approach you in search of food. But if you have no food to give, they may become aggressive.
Koalas tend to keep to themselves, but they’ve been known to go after dogs and humans.
If you encounter one in the wild, chances are you’re probably safe. Kangaroos and koalas don’t often start trouble with humans but may respond with aggression if provoked. It’s best to admire them from afar, no matter how tempting it might be to reach out and pet one.
Koalas and Kangaroos Were Severely Affected By Australian Wildfires
Both koala and kangaroo populations suffered significant losses during the Australian wildfires in 2019. It’s estimated that koalas were dying by the hundreds every day, and now, only an estimated 40,000-100,000 remain.
Experts say it’s hard to know for sure how many animals perished, but they estimate the final toll reaching 1 billion. This was a devastating event to Australia’s most prized resource—it’s animal kingdom—but rest assured that locals are doing all they can to care for the affected animals so that generations of the future can fall in love with them, too.
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