Koalas – Silent Menace of the Australian Bush

August 9, 2007 by

Australia & the Pacific, Places to Go, Travel Advice & Inspiration

How much can a koala bear? Well, based on the strict handling guidelines set out for them in Australia, apparently much less than we humans can! If you thought Aussies had the perfect lifestyle then you should ask us who we would rather be. Many of us think that the koala, sorry, the cute and cuddly (?) koala, has perhaps the best job in Australia, that is to simply sit back, look cute and rake in the tourist dollars from those who wish to cuddle you – despite your hidden dangers. Your reward for actively supporting the Koala union is that under no circumstance is anyone to come near you or harrass you with excessive attention. Being a koala, you are totally within your rights to sit completely oblivious to the fuss and pay no attention to the visitors who made the pilgrimage to cuddle you. So when you come to Australia beware when planning to cuddle the hard working koala ‘on the job’ as it were. Be sure not to disturb.

Weapons of mass destruction

So let’s set the record straight about the lovable koala (don’t call them bear!) – yes they are cute and cuddly, but their soft, lovable exterior hides a mean streak like no other in the animal kingdom. Unlike a goanna or a crocodile, the much-loved koala is deceptive in it’s threat to humans. Have you seen the claws on a koala (let alone felt them!)? No, you are distracted by the dozy eyes, teddy bear soft fur and leather button nose, mesmerized by its cuter than cute appearance. Hiding under that fluffy exterior is a set of claws that can slice through flesh like a knife through butter, just waiting for the opportunity to strike! Experts say these claws are for climbing and grooming, but we know a weapon when we see it…

Talking of dozy eyes, you do know why koalas sleep for so much of the day don’t you? Stoned on Eucalyptus leaves! No other living creature can live on a diet consisting purely of these poisonous leaves, but the koala has evolved to tolerate the poison and such is the extent of their “habit”, they will turn their nose up at any other type of food. Again, experts say koalas are slow moving and sleep alot before they have such slow metabolism, we say they have everyone fooled and just can’t kick their addiction! Do you really want to get to close to an animal in a permanent state of hallucination which owns a serious set of sharp claws? Then again, when you consider their sharp claws, this might not be such a bad combination of characteristics. A slow responding koala has probably saved many from a near scrape with real pain!


Undeniable evidence of a nasty drug habit

Another charming feature of the koala is its formidable mouth. Sharp incisors at the front of the mouth, supposedly for grabbing leaves but we know better, are backed up with even sharper molars allowing the koala to grind the leaves into pulp. How adorable – don’t forget to count your fingers as you walk away!

So this brings us down to the whole inspiration for this blog. Why are koala’s know as ‘cuddly’ and where can one go to ‘cuddle’ a koala.

The Australian state of New South Wales long ago introduced tough koala handling rules which basically prohibits any zoo or wildlife park allowing visitors to handle the animals under the guise of “animal welfare”. Protection of tourists is more appropriate, something had to be done to stem the increasing frequency of koala induced human injury! It’s a matter of time before the rest of the states follow suit, so if you want to hold a koala, you better sneak across the border quick smart. Like smoking pot in Amsterdam, soon there will be a whole industry for the “touching of koalas”.

Now we realize visitors to Australia want to see koalas, touch koalas and have photos taken with koalas, but we think it’s only fair that you have the facts and understand the dangers first. Forget about man-eating sharks, deadly snakes, sneaky spiders and limb tearing crocodiles, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. The only thing more dangerous than a koala is its cousin the drop bear, the rogues which couldn’t even be bothered to pass the basic ‘cute and cuddly’ koala exam and are destined to stay wild forever… visitors beware!

–Kerrie O’Mahony & Brad Atwal

If you are not traveling to Australia anytime soon but want to tempt fate on a close encounter with a koala, check out the Australian Koala Foundation for information on koalas living overseas, but please note handling of koalas by the public is not permitted in any zoo or wildlife park outside of Australia.


6 Responses to “Koalas – Silent Menace of the Australian Bush”

  1. Tara Says:

    Well next time I hear a news report that someone has been attacked by a Koala I will think, “We were warned!” This gives us one more thing to worry about when traveling to Australia. Forget about the Redbacks, the Croc’s, Pythons., I had no idea that these “non-bears ” were such a threat.

    Nah…All humans should be respectful and cautious of animals, no matter what species. Invade territory or disrespect and we all attack, yes?

    As a San Franciscan living in Sydney, I worry about the large bugs and Manly drunks more than anything.

  2. komahony Says:

    And rightly so, at least koalas are elusive and generally avoid people at all costs, it’s a shame the same can’t be said for those Manly drunks!

  3. KellyG Says:

    Hilarious! I knew they looked sinister when I saw them up close in Tasmania, and yeah, it was mainly the claws. Also, isn’t it shady they keep trying to pass themselves off as bears? Honestly.

  4. komahony Says:

    Exactly, they are sneaky and deceptive, it’s only fair you be warned.

  5. Joshua Says:

    I don’t blame some people for calling them bears (even though they’re not) due to the nature of the koala.

  6. Kiara Hunt Says:

    I hope you don’t mind that i put a link to this on my own website, it’s just that for years my friend has warned me against the dangers of koalas,but my friend is (like a koala) very short and adorable and hard to take seriously. She knows what she’s talking about though.