What do koalas eat?
Koalas eat eucalyptus.
It is their primary and basically only source of food.
Since koalas live in Australia, every day they eat about two to four pounds of fresh eucalyptus leaves (which is equivalent to four big buckets of KFC’s coleslaw).
They also drink water from tree hollows and eat twigs from eucalyptus trees.
They do not need to drink much water because most of the water they need comes from the leaves.
Koalas chew the eucalyptus leaves to help their caecum (fiber-digesting organs) break down the food.
The microbes create special enzymes that help the koalas digest their food by breaking down their proteins and fibers.
Koalas have a very slow metabolism rate because they eat so little food.
A koala only eats one type of leaf from one eucalyptus tree.
Each tree has a different type of leaf with a different nutritional value.
Rather than eating everything in one area, koalas are able to spread out their search for food.
This is only possible because eucalyptus trees grow so far apart from each other.
What Happens After Koalas Eat?
Each day, a healthy koala spends about fourteen hours sleeping or resting and only about three hours eating leaves.
All of this time is spent hanging from tree branches.
Koalas sleep so much not because they are tired, but to conserve energy and to avoid danger.
They do not need a lot of food to survive, and can therefore stay in one place for most of the day instead of wandering around looking for more food.
Sometimes koalas need to leave an area quickly if the eucalyptus trees are dying.
If koalas eat leaves from eucalyptus trees that are sick, they can get sick too and die.
Koalas live in the wild and therefore might go several days without eating if there is not enough food.
The special microbes in a koala’s stomach help break down leaves into sugar and fatty acids that can be used for energy and other processes.
When the food leaves a koala’s stomach, it goes into its small intestine where the remaining nutrients are absorbed by the body.
After absorbing these remaining nutrients, what is left of the eucalyptus leaves goes to a koala’s large intestine where bacteria break down almost everything of the eucalyptus leaves except for a few fibers and proteins.
This helps koalas become more efficient at digesting their food.
The small intestine absorbs almost all the nutrients of food, but some fatty acids and sugars remain in the large intestine where they are turned into large amounts of feces that come out as six to twenty-four feces a day.
Check out our other animal FAQs here: