Why Koalas Are Called ‘Koala Bears’? But In Fact They’re Far From It

Everybody knows what a koala bear is. These cute and cuddly creatures have become almost synonymous with Australia, and many people all over the world dream of visiting the country just to see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat. 

Why Koalas Are Called ‘Koala Bears’? But In Fact They’re Far From It

But while koalas are often lovingly referred to as koala bears, these creatures aren’t actually bears. In fact, they are far from it. So what is a koala?

And more importantly, why do so many people refer to them as koala bears? Well, they are both really good questions!

In this guide, we’ll take a look at why koalas are known as koala bears, and why they actually aren’t part of the bear family. So if you want to find out more, keep on reading!

What Is A Koala Bear?

First things first, let’s take a look at what a koala bear is. Well, as we have said a koala bear isn’t actually a type of bear.

Due to this, the name usually associated with this species of animal is inaccurate, and for that reason, we will refer to them as koalas going forward in this guide. So what are koalas? 

Well, as we have established, they aren’t bears. Instead of being part of the bear family, koalas are actually part of the marsupial family.

We’ll take a look at what this means in a little more detail later on, but for now we will just say that another well known member of the marsupial family is the kangaroo.

So this really does put into perspective how different koalas are to bears. 

As well as being marsupials, koalas are also herbivores, and typically they will live for between 13 and 18 years. They are native to Australia, and as we have said, have almost become the symbol of this country.

Everybody associates koalas with Australia. But then again, everybody associates them with bears, and that’s not accurate either. 

What Are Marsupials?

Now that we’ve taken a look at what koalas are, let’s take a look at what marsupials are. Well, as we have established, marsupials are the family of animals that both the kangaroo and koala belong to.

Marsupials are a species of animal that are most well-known for the fact that they have a pouch. 

Marsupials are a type of mammal, however they are different from most mammals because of the way in which their offspring is delivered.

A lot of mammals, such as humans, elephants and tigers, deliver completely developed young. But marsupials do not. This is because of their pouches. 

Instead of carrying to full term, marsupials will deliver their young when they are not completely developed.

The young will then move into the pouch where they will continue their development until fully developed and able to survive in the wild.

The majority of marsupials are found in Australia, which isn’t really surprising when you take a look at some of the animals which are categorized as marsupials. 

As well as kangaroos and koalas, another famous type of marsupial is an opossum. These creatures are totally unique.

So, now that we have established what marsupials are, let’s take a look at why koalas are often referred to as koala bears. 

Why Are Koala Bears Called Koala Bears?

Why Koalas Are Called ‘Koala Bears’? But In Fact They’re Far From It

Now, you might expect there to be a very interesting reason why koala bears are known as koala bears. But in actuality, there isn’t.

Koala bears are often referred to as koala bears for one simple reason, and that is because the people who first discovered them in Australia thought that these creatures looked quite like bears. 

When you look at a koala, it is easy to see how people could mistake them as bears. They have a lot of features that resemble bears. From their cute round ears to their little noses and the way that they use their paws, they really look and behave like bears.

Of course, koalas are much smaller than most bears that you would think of. But they do really look like miniature bears. 

But koalas are in no way related to bears. They have no genetic similarities beyond both being part of the mammal family.

So, while these creatures are often referred to as koala bears, they could not be further away from bears. They may look alike, but they are not the same creature, and they are not part of the same family of creatures.

Koalas are an animal in their own right. Even if they do look like bears. 

Are Koala Bears Dangerous? 

Once you realize that koalas aren’t actually bears, you might find yourself wondering what other things about koalas aren’t actually true.

For example, these creatures look like really cute and cuddly animals, but is this actually true? Or are koala bears actually dangerous?

Well, most of the time, no, koalas are not dangerous. But neither are they cute or cuddly. Koalas are not violent animals, and they will not attack you if you encounter one in the wild.

However, koalas often will not be friendly either. Instead of approaching you out in the wild, these creatures are more likely to climb further up the tree away from you.

They would rather be observed from a distance than seen and touched up close. 

That being said, koalas could potentially become dangerous when they feel threatened. Especially if they are carrying or caring for young. When you see koalas in the wild, it is best to leave them be and not bother them.

While these creatures typically aren’t dangerous or violent, they could become this if they feel under threat. So be respectful of these creatures. Remember, you are in their home, so don’t invade their space anymore than you already are. 

Fun Facts About Koalas

Now that you’ve found out that koalas aren’t a species of bears, you might be looking for some more fun facts about this type of animal. So, with that in mind, let’s wrap up with this quick list of fun facts about koalas. 

They Sleep A Lot

Koalas sleep a lot more than you might expect. In fact, these creatures often spend up to 18 hours a day fast asleep. So, if you do encounter one, there is a good chance that it will be catching some Zs.

They Are Solitary

Like many animals, koalas enjoy spending time on their own. So, if you are ever feeling anti-social, don’t worry, koalas often feel this way too. 

They Cuddle Trees

Everybody knows that koalas cuddle trees, but have you ever wondered why they do this? Koalas cuddle trees because they live in a hot country and trees are cool.

So, koalas do not cuddle trees for comfort, instead they cuddle the trees for the cool air that they give off as this effectively works as air conditioning. 


So, in conclusion, koala bears are often known as koala bears even though they are not actually bears. Instead, koalas are part of the marsupial family which means that they deliver their offspring before they are fully developed.

These creatures became known as koala bears because they resemble bears. However, they are not actually related to them.

Thanks for reading!

Olivia Kepner