Koalas are often thought of as a cuddly, cute marsupial, and are much loved by animal lovers from all around the world.
But what is their behavior actually like, and are there any things to be wary of when it comes to koalas?
Can Koalas Be Dangerous?
Despite their small stature, and their reputation for being cuddly and cute, koalas can indeed be dangerous to humans – particularly if provoked.
Koalas are solitary creatures by their very nature, which means that no matter how much you would like to cuddle them, they probably wouldn’t thank you for it.
They are also known for launching a preemptive attack when they feel threatened – a fact that has even been seen in koalas bred in captivity.
How Is Danger Categorized?
While an attack from a koala is unlikely to kill you, there are still many elements within their behavior that would classify them as being dangerous.
This comes down to a few different things, but could be broken down to temperament, lifestyle, and the tools they have at their disposal.
As we mentioned earlier, koalas are notably solitary creatures, which means they neither need nor want attention.
This can make them particularly ‘grumpy’ when disturbed – be it by a potential predator, or an over-tactile tourist.
Social creatures – such as dogs and various forms of livestock – tend to be more receptive to attention and (in turn) affection.
However, koalas live much of their lives alone, and so are less open to advances from new, strange people and animals.
What’s more, their general temperament is one of caution and preemptive action, and they are more than willing to attack first if it means they remain off the menu.
And who could blame them? The animal kingdom is literally a dog eat dog world, and the creature who is naive or foolish doesn’t tend to live long.
Koalas also have a generally assertive nature – something that is both used for mating, as well as defending themselves (and their young) from predators.
This means that they are not acting from a place of fear per se, more like from one of a need to dominate or control what they view as unwanted intrusions in their daily lives.
Of course, despite looking cute and cuddly, they still have some dangerous tools at their disposal – namely claws and teeth.
Their claws alone are strong enough to support them and their young to a tree trunk, so they should have no problem tearing through human flesh – or that of a predator who wanders into their midst.
What’s more, they also have sharp teeth, and while koala attacks are rare occurrences, this should be a source of worry for anyone who might otherwise be tempted to get too close.
With all of these things considered, koalas could indeed be considered dangerous, if only because they have the ‘would’, ‘could’, and the ‘how’ to do something about it – or in more obvious terms, the base level of solitude to make them antisocial, the temperament to make them act forthrightly against potential intruders, and the physical, evolutionary tools to enforce these feelings with action.
How Common Are Koala Attacks?
While the idea may sound somewhat comical, koala attacks are surprisingly common throughout Australia, especially as tourism has increased to the once isolated, rural areas the koalas call home.
There is also the fact that expansion away from the coasts of Australia has brought more people into contact with nature – thus ensuring that the koala has a lot more contact with human beings that it might otherwise experience.
Over the years there have been many key incidents that stick in people’s memories, including a South Australian woman who was attacked while walking her dog – resulting in the koala snapping onto her leg with its jaws and leaving her with a gaping wound that required stitches.
Another such incident saw a particularly cranky koala attack, scratch and bite a group of thieves who were attempting to capture and steal it away from its habitat.
How Likely Are Koala Attacks?
The attacks that do occur have been a constant source of surprise to animal experts, who on the whole consider koalas to be placid creatures who can spend up to 22 hours a day sleeping.
And as a rule this is true. Most koalas will not attack an individual or another animal, but if that person or predator gives the koala just cause to attack, it will more than likely meet them halfway.
Ultimately, koalas can only be dangerous in close quarters, which should give you a little insight into how they like to be treated.
Do Koalas Really Have Chlamydia?
Another aspect to the koala that makes it an animal worth being wary of, is the fact that they are prone to carrying chlamydia – a sexually transmitted disease that is generally only considered to be a human problem.
However, the disease is more rife within marsupials, and is largely responsible for the decline in the koala population.
What’s more unusual is that this can also be transmitted from a koala to a human – usually in the form of the koala urinating on a human from a tree.
This is an alarming fact, and is one reason why those people in the know tend to give koalas a wide berth.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about koalas, and just how dangerous they can be when provoked.
While generally placid, sleepy creatures that more than live up to their adorable looks, koalas tend to be solitary creatures, with a generally ill temperament, making them a formidable foe to any foolish enough to disturb them.
So if you happen upon a wild koala, and feel like giving them a pet, it might just be best to let them be and keep on walking!