Australia: Koala-ty Time
As a result of Australia’s geographic isolation, 80% of the wildlife is endemic, or peculiar, to this country. Some of these exotic species include wallabies, platypus, and the famed kangaroos. While the kangaroo may be the favorite of many, it was the koala that won my heart!
The koala bear, despite its misleading moniker, is actually a marsupial, or pouched mammal. It is only called a “bear” because of its teddy bear like appearance.
These furry little creatures require up to 20 hours of sleep a day. (Sometimes I feel like I need that much sleep, too!) It is a common misconception that their bizarre sleeping pattern is a result of getting intoxicated from the eucalyptus leaves, which are their only source of sustenance. But really, Eucalyptus leaves are low in nutritional value and high in fiber. As a result, koalas sleep to conserve energy. Further, eucalyptus leaves are poisonous to almost every mammal – but because of the koala’s slow metabolism, its digestive system filters out the toxins and extracts all the energy it can from the leaves.
My close encounter helped dispel some myths, and also shed light on just how complex the Koala is. It’s no wonder Australia’s wildlife is one of the main reasons tourists flock to this country; there are some enchanting creatures here!