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Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Fact Sheet: Summary

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Fact Sheet


Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Diprotodontia — kangaroos, wombats, pygmy possums, gliders and others

Suborder: Vombatiformes — wombats and koalas

Family: Phascolarctidae — koalas

Genus: Phascolarctos

Species: Phascolarctos cinereus — koala

Body Weight:
Male: average of 11 kg (24 lbs)
Female: average 8 kg (~20 lbs)

Body Length: 60-85 cm (20-33 in)

Tail Length: Vestigial

Pelage: Dense and wooly; top gray,
undersides white;white dappling on rump.

Other: Teddy bear-like in shape; black
leathery nose; rear opening pouch;
first two fingers opposable to other three
(zygodactyly); first toe opposable to other
four; each digit has strongly curved claw.

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Range: Eastern and southeastern
Australia from Queensland to South Australia

Habitat: Eucalyptus forests

IUCN Status: Vulnerable (2014 assessment)

CITES Appendix: not listed

Population in Wild:  About 330,00 individuals (300,000 mature) across Australia.

Locomotion: Arboreal, but moves
from tree to tree on the ground on
all fours with side-to-side gait; can swim

Activity Cycle: Spends up to 20
hours/day sleeping and resting;
active throughout 24 hour cycle.

Social Groups: Non-social except for
mother and joey; joey remains with
female until birth of a another joey;
even though described as rather solitary,
koalas live within a complex network of
other koalas

Diet: Mostly Eucalyptus leaves

Threats: Habitat destruction, climate
change, predation by dogs and dingoes,
being hit by cars, Chlamydia in some populations

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Males rarely breed if younger than 4 years.
Females around 2-3 years are sexually mature

Gestation: 35 days

Litter Size: Usually 1, rarely 2

Birth weight: 0.5 g (0.018 oz)

Age at Weaning: about 12 months

Typical Life Expectancy:
Wild populations: about 10–12 years, on average
Managed care: median life expectancy of about 10 years (for Queensland koala, Phascolarctos cinereus adustus).

Feature Facts

  • Eucalyptus-dependent marsupial native to Australia; powerful jaws for chewing tough leaves
  • Strong claws for climbing and sleeping in trees
  • Koala fingerprints, like those of humans, are unique for each individual
  • Young develop in pouch and later ride on mother's back; sometimes stay with mother up to 2 years, until next joey is born
  • Popular because of "teddy bear" appearance
  • Important in Aboriginal mythology and folklore
  • First koala pair came to San Diego Zoo in 1925. Most successful breeding program of any zoo outside of Australia.

About This Fact Sheet

© 2011-2020 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Population estimates updated Sep 2018, IUCN Status updated Oct 2020.

How to cite: Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Fact Sheet. c2011-2020. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. 
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2014 Sep 06)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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