Koalas in the south generally tend to have fur which is darker and thicker and sometimes browner than those in the north. These variations are gradual changes from north to south, and there are some differences of opinion amongst scientists as to whether the variations mean that there are separate sub-species of the koala. Koalas have patches of white fur inside the ears, on their chin, chest and neck, inside the front limbs and sometimes on the back of the hind limbs, and usually in patches on their rump.
Physical Characteristics of the Koala
Mature males are recognisable by the brown scent gland in the centre of their chest which they rub on the tree trunks to deter other Koalas, especially other males, from entering their home trees. The fur on the Koala's rump is densely packed and provides an inbuilt 'cushion' for the hard branches it sits on.
The rump's white speckled appearance makes Koalas harder to spot from the ground. Koalas in the south of Australia are considerably larger and have thicker, often browner fur than those in the north. These are likely to be adaptations to the colder winters in the south of the country. The Koala's unusually large, leathery nose is one of its most noticeable features.
Koalas rely on their highly developed sense of smell to differentiate levels of toxins in eucalyptus leaves , to detect the levels of toxicity in the leaves at any particular time. They also need to smell the scent warnings put on trees by other Koalas. Their eyesight is not particularly highly developed. Adult male Koalas are larger than adult females, who have a pouch in the centre of their abdomen with the opening more towards the bottom of the pouch than the top. The external genitalia are visible on a male Koala.
One of the easiest ways to identify the sex of a Koala is to look for the dark brown scent gland which is located in the centre of the white chests of mature, breeding males. Females and young pre-breeding males have a plain white chest.
However, that's not strictly true. When a female Koala first gives birth to young her pouch opening faces neither up nor down, although it is located towards the bottom of the pouch rather than at the top. The pouch has a strong sphincter muscle at the opening to prevent the joey from falling out. The opening is towards the bottom of the pouch rather than at the top. Photo by Wendy Blanshard. The Koala's body temperature is consistently lower than most mammals, at The resting heart rate of a Koala is anywhere between beats per minute it will depend on a range of factors, including the age of the Koala.
It can be difficult to measure a resting heart rate for a Koala as they have a 'sinus arrhythmia' which means that their heart rate and breathing get out of sync. This can cause fluctuations in the heart rate which aren't a reflection of the actual heart rate--resting or active. Koalas are the only other animal that have individual fingerprints like humans.
A scientific study compared human and Koala fingerprints, finding that the Koalas' are easily distinguishable from humans', but there are some similarities. It was noted that each Koala has a different fingerprint from other Koalas. Of course, they do have a rib cage to protect their internal organs.
However, while most mammals--including marsupials and primates like us--have 13 thoracic vertebrae and therefore 13 pairs of ribs, Koalas have only 11 pairs; the least of any recorded marsupial species. They have a curved spine and a cartilaginous pad over the end of the spine which may make it more comfortable to sit on branches and in tree forks. Koalas are sensitive around their abdominal area and need something to grip onto when being picked up. The average family goes through roughly 25 zip-lock bags in a week.
The zip-lock bag serves its purpose…. Technology maybe overwhelming for most us, but the future generation is so with it!
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