Koalas are found in a range of habitats, from coastal islands and tall eucalypt forests to low inland woodlands.
Koalas typically inhabit open eucalypt woodlands, and the leaves of these trees make up most of their diet. Because this eucalypt diet has limited nutritional and caloric content, koalas are largely sedentary and sleep up to 20 hours a day.
Koalas live in societies, just like humans, so they need to be able to come into contact with other Koalas. Because of this they need to have areas of suitable eucalypt forest which are large enough to support a healthy Koala population and to allow for expansion by maturing young Koalas.
They are asocial animals, and bonding exists only between mothers and dependent offspring. Adult males communicate with loud bellows that intimidate rivals and attract mates. Males mark their presence with secretions from scent glands located on their chests.
Being marsupials, koalas give birth to underdeveloped young that crawl into their mothers’ pouches, where they stay for the first six to seven months of their lives. These young koalas, known as joeys, are fully weaned around a year old.
The Koala is well suited to its life in the trees. Unlike other arboreal marsupials such as the tree kangaroo, the Koala does not have an external tail. However vestiges of a tail are still present in the skeletal structure of the Koala, indicating that at some time in its evolutionary history an external tail was present.
The Koala has an excellent sense of balance. With a lean, muscular body, and comparatively long, strong limbs, the Koala can support its weight when climbing. The front and hind limbs are nearly equal in length and much of the Koala’s climbing strength comes from the thigh muscle, which joins the shin much lower than in many other mammals.
The Koala’s paws are specially adapted for gripping and climbing. Rough pads on the palms and soles help it to grip tree trunks and branches, and both front and hind paws have long sharp claws. Each paw has five digits; on the front paw, two digits are opposed to the other three–rather like a human’s thumb–so they are both able to be moved in opposition to the other three. This allows the Koala to grip more securely.
Koalas have thick, woolly fur which protects them from the extremes of both high and low temperatures, and which also acts like a ‘raincoat’ to repel moisture when it rains. The fur varies in color from light grey to brown. Koalas in the south generally tend to have fur which is darker and thicker (and sometimes browner) than those in the north.
The koala may be one of the best animal symbols when it comes to adapting a Zen attitude towards life. They very rarely let annoyances bother them, and they respond to only real threats. This is a wisdom that we humans could greatly learn from.
The koala totem symbolizes your gentle nature. It gives you a calming effect on people. You the ability to nurture and protect your family and community with much care. You plant the seed of change in the minds of people and patiently wait for it to sprout.
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