What makes koalas special?

Wet koala sitting in a tree at the Woolwash
The grey fur of the koala blends with the tree enabling them to camouflage.

The Koala

The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) or sometimes known by tourists as the koala bear, is native to only Australia and is the only existing representative of the family Phascolarctidae. The koala is found in coastal areas of the mainland's eastern and southern regions, inhabiting Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

It is easily recognisable by its stout, tailless body and large head with round, fluffy ears and large, spoon-shaped nose. The koala has a body length of 60cm-85cm (24in–33in) and weighs 4kg-15 kg (9lb–33lb). Their fur ranges in colour from silver grey to chocolate brown, depending on location.

What makes koalas unique?

  • Koalas are arboreal herbivorous marsupials, meaning they spend the majority of their lives in trees and only eat leaves and their babies, called Joeys, are grown in mum’s pouch
  • When in their mother’s pouch they start out as small as your thumbnail
  • Koalas communicate with each other by making a bellowing noise which sounds like a loud snore and then burp
  • A mature male koala has a scent gland in the centre of his chest which he rubs on trees to tell other koalas they are in his territory
  • Koalas live in colonies but are not social animals, generally only coming together to fight for territory or for mating during the breeding season
  • Koalas can sleep for up to 20 hours a day. They rest to conserve energy so their special fibre digesting organ can work hard at detoxifying the chemicals in eucalyptus leaves, which are poisonous to most animals
  • Just like people, koalas have individual personalities as well as fingerprints
  • The closest relative to a koala is the common wombat
  • Koalas are aged by the wear on their teeth
  • Koalas from the northern populations are typically smaller and lighter in colour than their counterparts further south.

Image of koala fingerprints and claw

Image: Koala fingerprints

What makes Campbelltown koalas so special?

  • Campbelltown is home to the largest disease free koala population in NSW
  • It is one of the only remaining populations in the Sydney basin, only 40kms from the Sydney CBD
  • The population extends from Campbelltown to Wollondilly, Wollongong, Sutherland and Liverpool Local Government Areas (LGA)
  • The population is constantly expanding after each breeding season
  • Koalas are listed as a Vulnerable Species under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (previously Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995) and the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999)