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A Koala

The Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is a small herbivorous marsupial, typically found in coastal regions of eastern and southern Australia mainly feeding on eucalyptus leaves. Despite its nickname koala bear, the koala is not a bear. It is the only extant representative of the genus Phascolarctos and the family Phascolarctidae and wombats are its closest relatives. It is easily recognizable by its stout, tailless body and large head with round, fluffy ears and its large, spoon-shaped nose.


The fur color of the koala varies from light grey to chocolate brown. The underbelly fur is whitish; on the rump it is mottled whitish and dark. It has curved, sharp claws that are well adapted for climbing trees. The large forepaws have two opposable digits (the first and second, which are opposable to the other three) that allows it to grip small tree branches. On the hind paws, the second and third digits are fused, a typical condition for members of the Diprotodontia, and the attached claws (which are still separate) function like a comb and a muscular upper body with relatively long upper limbs that contribute to its ability to scale trees.


The word koala comes from the Dharug word gula, meaning no water. Although the vowel 'u' was originally written in the English orthography as "oo" (in spellings such as coola or koolah — two syllables), the spelling later became "oa" and the word is now pronounced in three syllables, possibly in error.

Adopted by white settlers, "koala" became one of several hundred Aboriginal loan words in Australian English, where it was also commonly referred to as "native bear", later "koala bear", for its supposed resemblance to a bear. It is also one of several Aboriginal words that made it into International English, alongside e.g. "didgeridoo" and "kangaroo." The generic name, Phascolarctos, is derived from the Greek words phaskolos meaning "pouch" and arktos, which means "bear". The specific name, cinereus, is Latin for "ash coloured".

Koalas and furry[edit]

Koala fursonas are typically chosen by Australian furries, due to the fact that koalas are one of the national symbols of Australia.

See also[edit]

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