Koalas need trees; trees to sit in and trees to eat. There at least 900 species of eucalypts (gum) trees in Australia but koalas only prefer around 20 of these trees at any one time. It is really important to koalas that you keep any trees that you already have and to plant more trees of the types they like to eat. It takes at least five years for a gum tree to mature enough for a koala to want to eat it.
In hot weather watch out for koalas who may have dehydration (as the temperature rises, the leaves that the koala eats become dry and therefore don’t provide the water the koala needs). You can help a koala who looks dehydrated by lightly misting the koala with a hose (avoid the head) and leaving water out in a shallow dish near the base of its tree. A koala that sits on the ground during hot weather should be provided with water. If you are worried about the koala, mention it to an adult and they can decide if they need to phone the RSPCA or , if you are in SA, call 1300 KOALAZ (1300 562 529)
If you see a koala sitting in a tree that isn’t a gumtree you can rest assured that this is normal behaviour. Koalas sit in trees for shelter and to rest, it does not need to be a tree that the koala likes to eat. Koalas have been known to occasionally eat leaves of trees that are not eucalypts. The koala will move off when it is ready to do so.
If you happen to live in an area with koalas, there a number of ways you can help.
- Plant koala food trees.
- Be careful not to hit any koalas while driving, particularly between dusk and dawn when they’re most active.
- Keep dogs and cats inside or in an enclosure at night to reduce the likelihood of attacks.
- Koalas are particularly active during breeding season (Spring / Summer), be more vigilant during this time.
- Removing trees from your yard will not remove koalas – they will still travel through your yard to get to the other side and do not understand to go around your yard. Removing the trees actually makes the koala more vulnerable.
- Erect wildlife friendly fencing to allow safe passage for koalas.
- If you find an injured koala place a washing basket over it, call the RSPCA or, if you are in SA, call 1300 KOALAZ (1300 562 529).