Zoology & Botany

koala

Prepare a picture of/book about/a toy koala in advance, as well as a sample of koala fur

Say: Look at this animal. (Show a picture of a koala.) This is a mammal.

Remember, to be classified as a mammal, an animal should have hair or fur, mammary glands (mammal mothers nurse their young with milk), lungs and need air to breathe. Mammals that live on land are warm blooded, have 4 legs and ears that stick out.

(Point to the koala)Say: It´s a Koala! Though often called the koala "bear," this cuddly animal is not a bear at all; it is a marsupial, or pouched mammal. Koalas are rather small, round animals. They have soft, wool-like fur that is gray above and white below. Koala fur isn't as soft as it looks. (Approach the fur sample to the baby in order to touch and feel) It is very coarse, like wool. This fur repels water to keep them dry in the rain. Koalas have big, fluffy ears and an excellent sense of hearing. Because they have poor eyesight, koalas generally detect predators by sound. They have an even better sense of smell, which helps them select which leaves are best to eat. Koalas have large, sharp claws to assist with climbing tree trunks. Their hands and feet are built to curl around tree branches very tightly. Their hands have two opposable thumbs, providing better gripping ability. The closest living relative of the koala is the wombat. (Climb the tree with me like koala does, baby).

Go back to the picture of the koala. Say: let’s find koala’s body parts. This is its head, eyes, nose, mouth, body, legs: 1,2,3,4; Oops! Koala doesn´t have a tail!! Even though it has no tail, the koala has a great sense of balance and strong limbs that allow it to climb. By the way, baby, koalas do not drink much water and they get most of their moisture from leaves.

Koalas are living things and need energy to survive.

Koalas are herbivores that eat only eucalyptus. They eat 3 hours per day, usually during the night-time. They even store snacks of leaves in pouches in their cheeks. Koalas rest 16 to 18 hours a day; they sleep so much because they need time and energy to digest their food. It takes a lot of energy to digest the fibrous leaves of the eucalyptus. Do you know sweetheart? The koala is an excellent swimmer, and may cross rivers in order to escape from heavy flooding in one area.

Koalas breed once a year. A koala’s pregnancy lasts 35 days. The joey born hairless, blind with undeveloped ears. A joey will stay with its mother for 6 more months after first venturing out of the pouch. In this time, the joey learns how to grasp leaves with its hands and returns to the pouch to hide or sleep. When the joey becomes too large, it may ride on its mother’s back or abdomen. At 1 year of age, the joey can live on its own.

Koalas live in southeastern and eastern Australia, in the eucalyptus forests and woodlands. They live in eucalyptus trees and spend most of their time wedged between forks in the tree's branches. Koalas eat in the trees, sleep in trees and hang out in trees. The only time they leave the trees is to walk to another tree with a better food supply.

80 percent of koala habitat has been lost to human homes and businesses, drought, and fires. That makes life hard for an animal that needs eucalyptus forests to survive, like koalas do. Koalas also are at risk when close to human populations and being killed by cars or dogs. That´s why We need to take care of Koalas and treat them with respect because they are living things just like us, people.

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