What Do Koalas Eat?

What Do Koalas Eat?
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What Do Koalas Eat? Koalas are iconic marsupials spotting black oval noses and round ears. They are native to Australia where they are only found worldwide. Koalas spend most of their time sleeping and waking time eating.

These Australia’s iconic symbols are herbivores. Their primary diet constitutes mainly of the eucalyptus leaves and occasionally leaves from related tree species.

Table of Contents

What Do Koalas Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Diprotodontia Phascolarctidae Phascolarctos Phascolarctos cinereus

Koalas Diet

Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are herbivores feeding on leaves from eucalypt and non-eucalypt tree species.

Interestingly, a majority of the diet of the koalas comes from a few of the eucalyptus tree species with the examples of the following: Eucalyptus viminalis, Eucalyptus punctata, Eucalyptus ovata, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, and Eucalyptus tereticornis.

  • Eucalyptus leaves are very toxic, especially to animals but koalas have a specialized mechanism to go around this toxicity.
  • Koalas have bacterial flora in their stomachs, which comes in handy to metabolize the toxins from eucalyptus leaves.
  • There is only 1 Koala species that exists, Phascolarctos cinereus. However, there appear to be differences in the opinions from the scientific community as to whether 3 subspecies of Koalas exist or if these subspecies can only be viewed as races.
  • The koala’s fur varies from light grey to brown depending on their geographical location. Koalas living in the south of Australia tend to have a thick and dark coat, which is at times browner.
  • Brown koalas are mostly found in South Australia, and Victoria states. Those living in north Australia spot a light grey hue and are mostly found in Queensland state. They tend to be smaller compared to their southern counterparts.
  • Koalas living in Australia’s New South Wales state has a grey-brown color.

Koalas are arboreal meaning they will tend to inhabit forested areas, especially those with eucalyptus trees.

They will only come to land when they need to like looking for a new place to live, or when they are in search of water or safety. Aside from this, koalas will spend most of their lives on trees.

How Do Koalas Hunt?

How Do Koalas Hunt?

Koalas strictly feed on a plant diet, and they will not prey on other organisms. As a result, koalas do not hunt.

When Do Koalas Eat?

Koalas are nocturnal feeders. This means that they come out at night to feed and then go back to their usual sleeping pattern. Koalas have been noted to eat during the first half of the night.

How Often Do Koalas Eat?

How Often Do Koalas Eat?

Koalas do not feed continuously during their feeding sessions. They feed in a series of about 6 to 10 bouts for an average of 20 minutes but can last for between 5 and 18 minutes.

  • Adult koalas feed as much as they can to reach their daily schedule of consuming between 200-500 grams of eucalyptus leaves. They cannot eat more than three pounds of leaves each day, or they would experience indigestion.
  • Given the above, it is worth to note that Koalas will spend most of their wake time feeding, but as they do so, they cannot exceed their daily limit of food intake.
  • Interestingly, how often koalas feed depends on the weather. In Australia’s south, where it is colder (wet and cold during winter) compared to the north, koalas do not eat during heavy rains.

These marsupials remained curled up into a ball during this time. They do this to insulate themselves from the cold and to conserve energy.

What Eats Koalas?

What Eats Koalas? Australian Dingoes

Koalas have very few natural enemies, and because of this, they are at the apex of their food chain in Australia’s mainland. Some of their predators may include large owls and dingoes. Pythons and eagles also predate on koalas.

Where Do Koalas Fit in the Animal Food Chain?

Koalas have an instrumental role to play in the animal food chain.

  • They are prey to a vast range of carnivorous species like eagles, large owls, and pythons which find them to be a perfect delicacy.
  • In general, they are pivotal in maintaining the health of the ecosystem, especially Australia’s environment.

Cite this article as: "What Do Koalas Eat?," in Bio Explorer by Jack Kirsten, July 7, 2018, https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-koalas-eat.html/.

Key References

  • “Koalas: Facts About Iconic Marsupials”. Accessed July 06, 2019. Link.
  • “Koala facts (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection)”. Accessed July 06, 2019. Link.
  • “ADW: Phascolarctos cinereus: INFORMATION”. Accessed July 06, 2019. Link.
  • “Diet & Habitat | Australian Koala Foundation”. Accessed July 06, 2019. Link.
  • “Koalas: A Retrospective – Psychoterratica”. Accessed July 06, 2019. Link.
What Do Koalas Eat?
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