Wildlife in Australia, extract

I spent much of my time in Australia looking for koalas, but never saw one in the wild. Koalas sleep for up to 22 hours a day, so I guess my timing was always wrong. I did see a couple of them at Melbourne Zoo; one was slumped over a branch dozing and the other had his back to me. I eventually gave up hoping he would turn around.

There is a myth that koalas sleep a lot because they get high on eucalyptus leaves, but they are in fact conserving energy to digest their fibrous, low-nutrition diet. They get their name from an ancient Aboriginal word meaning “no drink” because the gum leaves provide them with most of the water they need. Eucalyptus leaves are toxic to most other animals, but the koala’s digestive system is especially adapted to detoxify the poisonous chemicals.

Read more on Australia page.

Categories: Australia