When we think of the koala bear, we often think of a slow moving animal akin to a sloth.
The koala is truly in no rush to get anywhere, and enjoys spending most of the day slumbering high up in the trees, only to wake and eat a few eucalyptus leaves.
If you’ve found yourself wanting to know more about these adorable animals, you’re in luck.
Below, we’ve compiled some interesting facts about koala bears, including their incredibly long sleep cycles. Keep reading below to find out more.
Do Koalas Really Sleep For 22 Hours?
Some of you reading the title of this article may be surprised to find that koala bears do sleep for 22 hours per day, but we swear that it’s true.
They spend all of their time consuming eucalyptus leaves, which are known for being poor sources of energy.
Because eucalyptus leaves are so low in calories, koala bears need to conserve the energy that they’ve gotten from them in order to survive.
If they were to spend the majority of their days moving around and exercising after eating something so low in nutrients, they would famish and ultimately die.
These leaves can also be toxic, so a lot of the koala bear’s time is spent breaking down these toxins via their digestive system.
This takes quite a lot of energy, and as a result, the koala bear will need to sleep for extended periods of time.
This also means that they are only active for around 5 hours in the day, so if you come across a koala bear in the wild, chances are that they’ll be sleeping.
They sleep more than any other marsupial, and herbivore for that matter.
Zebras, which are also considered to be herbivores, will only sleep for five minutes per day in comparison.
Most herbivores spend their days grazing and looking for shrubbery to eat. The koala is the exception to this rule, and they’d much prefer to take a nap.
Why Do They Sleep For So Long?
As we’ve briefly covered above, koala bears require a lot of sleep because of their digestive systems.
As well as this, they have been known to have incredibly slow metabolisms, which affects their sleeping patterns too.
The reason why their metabolisms are so slow is because they spend the majority of the day not moving at all.
They don’t really need to move around that much, because they have all the food that they require right in front of them in the form of eucalyptus leaves.
The few times when koala bears will attempt to move around, is to climb higher up in the tree in order to locate fresher and juicer eucalyptus leaves.
Do Koala Bears Possess Little Intelligence?
Because when you witness a koala bear they’re incredibly slow moving and docile, it is therefore easy to presume that they don’t have a high intellectual capacity. This is, in fact, true.
Koala bears have one of the smallest brains in the entirety of the animal kingdom, and along with this, their brains are completely smooth without any ridges.
This means that their reaction time is very slow, and they can’t respond immediately to potential predators or other threats.
For example, if there was a bushfire, the koala bear would remain seated in the tree right up until the time the flames began to touch their body. As well as this, they have low recognition levels.
If you were to present a koala bear with an eucalyptus leaf, it would not recognize it as being such, because it had not come directly from the tree.
Are Koala Bears Nocturnal?
It can be difficult to determine whether or not koalas are indeed, nocturnal, because they sleep for so much of the day. Research, however, has proven that koalas are nocturnal creatures.
This is because when they are active for those few short hours, it tends to be during the nighttime, or very early in the morning.
This may be confusing as some of you may have witnessed koala bears moving around in the daytime.
This is because koala bears will move around during the day if they’ve been disturbed in any way. This could be a sudden noise, or change in weather which has disturbed their sleeping pattern.
An interesting fact about koala bears is that although they are considered to be nocturnal animals, they don’t actually possess very good night vision.
Their eyes are actually incredibly small, and so they will rely on their other senses to navigate their way around.
In comparison to their eyes, the nose and ears of a koala bear are particularly large, and can help them to navigate their way around at night time.
There are over 200 varieties of eucalyptus leaves in existence, and koala bears will only consume around 40 of these varieties.
They require their large noses in order to smell these leaves, and detect which ones are suitable for consumption.
Even the younger koala bears, called joeys, have a good sense of smell. They are able to find their way safely into the confines of their mother’s pouch simply by smelling the milk.
Do They Know When They Are Being Attacked?
Because koalas spend most of their day fast asleep, it is easy to presume that they wouldn’t be alert enough to defend themselves from potential prey.
Especially seeing as they have such slow receptors to potential danger.
Although koala bears may appear to be sound asleep, they are actually aware of what is going on around them.
If they were being hunted by potential predators on the ground, they would be able to move up to the trees in order to protect themselves.
Koala bears rarely venture down to the ground, however, as they are too slow to escape most predators in the animal kingdom. Instead, they prefer to live safely and high up in their trees.
What Diseases Are Koala Bears Prone To?
Many people reading this article will already be aware that one of the primary threats to koala bears is chlamydia. It gives them a painful urinary tract infection, which can be lethal.
This disease is typically brought on by stress, rather than being sexually transmitted.
Chlamydia is a worrying potential threat to the existence of the koala bear, as acquiring the disease can make the females infertile, which means that new joeys can’t be born.
To sum up, koala bears sleep for 22 hours per day. The reason why they sleep for so long is primarily because of their digestive systems.
Because the eucalyptus leaves that they consume are toxic, their bodies have to break these toxins down, which takes up a lot of energy.
As well as this, eucalyptus leaves are also low in nutrients as well as calories, so koalas don’t have much energy in the form of food either.