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Discovery Magazine 4/1/2008

Come Climb with Me

You have heard people talk about “koala bears,” but koalas actually are not bears. Like bears, koalas are mammals, but unlike bears, koalas are members of the group of pouched animals we call marsupials. The koala is Australia’s most popular and most loved marsupial. God equipped koalas with strong, sharp claws and opposable fingers for climbing, so they usually stay in trees and away from danger. They do not make nests, but usually sleep in a tree fork or on a branch. The special bony plate in the koala’s lower back allows it to rest comfortably.

If a koala happens to be on the ground, moving from one tree to another, and a predator notices him, the koala runs to the nearest tree and climbs very quickly. Then, he waits patiently for the predator to go away before moving again. Staying in one place for long periods is no problem, because koalas routinely sleep 18 to 22 hours per day.

Unlike many marsupials, koalas have pouches that open toward their hind legs. The female koala has a drawstring-like muscle to close the pouch and secure her young. A female koala can have one baby koala each year for about 12 years. A baby koala is called a “joey” and at birth is hairless, blind, and earless. After seven months, the joey leaves its mother’s pouch and clings to her back. A joey becomes independent after one year.

Koalas mainly eat eucalyptus leaves. This diet doesn’t bore them, because there are more than 600 different kinds of eucalyptus trees. Zoologists know that a diet of these leaves would hurt or kill most animals, but God has given koalas the special ability to detoxify poison in their livers. Koalas also have a special fiber-digesting organ called a “caecum.” Another benefit is the strong smell of eucalyptus, which keeps dangerous and annoying bugs away from koalas. Furthermore, koalas rarely need to drink, because they get lots of moisture from their special food.

Koalas are some of the most endearing creatures God created, and they also give us great evidence of His perfect design.



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