Koala (koh-ah-luh). The koala is probably one of the most loved and iconic animals of Australia. With their leather button looking noses, small round eyes, and what appears to be soft fluffy bodies of fur, they have captured the hearts of millions. In fact, they are my very favorite animal.
Often mistaken for a bear, they have no relation what so ever to bears and belong to the marsupial family. Marsupials are distinguished by the fact the baby is carried and suckled in a pouch. Most marsupials are found and reside in Australia and New Guinea, but here in the states we do have the opossums.
The koala can be found in a variety of states and regions in Australia, but mainly in the forest areas where their source of food the eucalyptus tree grows. There are over 700 species of eucalyptus, but our picky eater the koala only likes about 10 and depending on which region they live in depends on which of those they like. The koalas not only smell like this eucalyptus when you encounter them, but the blended oils from eating it act as insect repellent for them.
I know for me the thing I wanted most when I went to Australia was to have a koala “cuddle”, but much to my disappointment that did not happen on my first encounter. It is good to know that there are only limited areas where “cuddling” a koala is still allowed by law as excessive handling can be quite stressful for these very inactive animals who sleep nearly the whole day. So how can you get up close and personal with koalas in Australia?