Koalas, Queensland, Australia
© Suzi Eszterhas/Minden Picture
A koala’s pregnancy lasts about a month. When the baby – called a joey – is born, it looks like a pink jellybean. It is only two centimetres long, hairless, blind and has undeveloped ears. It immediately crawls into its mother’s pouch and stays there for about six months. It will then spend around another six months close to mum, usually by clinging to her belly or riding her back, like in our photo.
Sometimes inaccurately called koala bears, koalas aren’t bears at all. Koalas are marsupials, and like most marsupials, they have maternal pouches. Other marsupials include kangaroos, wombats and opossums, but the koala might be the most photogenic of them all. As such, the adorable creatures have become symbols of their native Australia.
Koalas are sedentary tree-dwellers, inhabiting the eucalyptus forests of eastern Australia. A koala’s diet consists mainly of eucalyptus leaves, which are low in calories and nutrients – that's why a koala usually spends 20 hours a day sleeping or resting. That doesn’t leave time for much else but eating. Koalas are solitary animals, so if you ever see two koalas together, they're likely mother and joey.