5 Amazing Facts about Koala Joeys

1. Baby koalas are called Joeys. All marsupial babies are called joeys – kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, tasmanian devils, possums & bilbys. The meaning/origin is unknown – it’s possibly just a diminutive used at that time for any small animal. Joey as a baby marsupial was first recorded in use in 1839.

The use of the word joey may have started with the word being applied for a British fourpenny coin. Politician Joseph Hume promoted the use of the fourpenny, thus the coin developed the slang name joey after him.

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2. The first time you see a koala joey it is already 6 months old. Koala joeys are born as tiny naked creatures that don’t look anything like a koala. They move straight into the pouch, and remain unseen until they emerge at around 6 months old.

Actual emergence takes time. The joey first pokes his head out of the pouch at 5.5 months, and fully emerges at 6 to 7 months. By 8 to 9 months the joey becomes too large to get into the pouch, and spends all his time on his mother’s belly or back.

3. Koalas invented pro-biotics. Koala joeys eat ‘pap’ – a special substance produced by their mother that looks like poo and acts like a probiotic. It contains gut flora that the joey needs to process eucalyptus leaves. The mother koala produces it from her caecum (a special chamber in her large intestine) and delivers it from her cloaca, so though it looks a bit like poo, its not.

Pap is absolutely essential to a koala’s health. Wildlife Carers with orphaned koala joeys will frequently ask the wildlife care community for a postal delivery of pap from a koala mother – any koala mother will do, the closer the better but any is better than none. Imagine receiving that package of squishy green slurry in the mail!

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4. Koala joeys are born out of their mother’s central vagina. Female koalas have three vaginas.

Why? Its complicated, and deserves a complete blog on the subject. Suffice to say that the two lateral (side) vaginae are for the passage of sperm to the uteri, and the median (central) vagina is for birth.

5. Koala joeys are born high in a tree. There is no danger of them falling to the ground – they are so tiny they get trapped in their mother’s fur. At birth a koala joey weighs only 1 gram – as much as a single sultana/raisin – and is only 2cm long.

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It’s Koala Joey Season in the state of Victoria right now. All over the state wild koalas can be seen with joeys – hotspots are The You Yangs near Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road and Raymond Island, East Gippsland.

Echidna Walkabout runs the following tours to see koalas in the wild – with a high chance of seeing koala joeys each year from September to November:

Wildlife Journey 4 days

Great Ocean Road 3 days

Koalas & Kangaroos IN THE WILD 1 day

For more information contact:

Janine Duffy

janine@echidnawalkabout.com.au

T: +61 (0)3 9646 8249

Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours & Koala Clancy Foundation

http://www.echidnawalkabout.com.au http://koalaclancyfoundation.org.au

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Once seen, never forgotten. Koala of the Month: Cruiz

Its easy to assume that wild koalas have small, reliable home ranges. After all, you don’t see them moving about much do you?CRUIZ260913mrWMlowrestext

If we’ve learnt one thing over 17 years of wild koala research, its that koalas move! A lot!

We first met Cruiz in November 2008 in the Turntable region of the You Yangs. He looked big, strong and healthy. We assumed he was mature – at least 4 or 5 years old. It was exciting to have a new male on the block.

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But then he disappeared. Sadly, we filed his photos and nose pattern diagram under the “Koalas once seen, never to be seen again” file.

You should never give up on a koala, though. Out of the blue in December 2011 he re-appeared in the turntable area. He’s back, we thought. “Don’t be hasty” he thought.

We didn’t see Cruiz once in 2012. Not once. Back into The File he went.

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Cruiz in 2013

So when he showed up three times in 2013 and three times in 2014, we had learnt our lesson. We didn’t get excited. Maybe he’s a nomad. Maybe he’s in protracted negotiations with dominant male Anzac, and other residents Vincent, Zack, Kenny and Rocky.

But 2015 was a good year for Cruiz. Already we have seen him 12 times. He’s been all over the place – turntable, branding yard 2 km to the east, Branch Rd. If we simply join the dots of all his locations this year, his home range would be around 117 hectares!

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Interestingly, too, he isn’t migrating steadily from one area to another – he is regularly traversing that entire area. One day he’ll be in Branding Yard, a week later he’ll be back in Turntable.

He’s not young either – we estimate he is at least 12 years old. That’s a really good age for a wild male these days.

Every single wild koala is different. Cruiz is a special fellow.

If you come on our Koalas & Kangaroos IN THE WILD one day tour, or our 3 day Great Ocean Road tour, you might meet him!

Friday Five great outdoor things to do this week! 7th December 2012

1. Krowathunkoolong Keeping Place, Bairnsdale. This is one of the best Aboriginal Centres we’ve been to.  It is big enough to keep you entertained for an hour, but small enough to be absorbed.  The beautiful pictures of the past are worth seeing, and the artwork on the artifacts is so regionally distinctive.  Grattan, who manages the centre, is a wonderful Ambassador and teacher. They are near the main street in Bairnsdale and open Monday to Friday.

2. The Wimmera River, Horsham.  The mighty Wimmera River runs just south of the main street of Horsham, and a side-trip is really worthwhile.  Take Baker St off O’Callahans Pde, just north of the Wimmera River bridge. Follow it along, it becomes Eastgate Drive, then Barnes Blvd. All along here the riverside park is just gorgeous.  There are birds everywhere, walking tracks, picnic tables, dunnies (toilets) and carparking.  Well done Horsham council for your work here.   I’ll never use the highway again!

3. Fish & Chips on the beach, anywhere!  This is a great Aussie coastal tradition.  First – get out of the main city centre.  You can’t get real Fish & Chips in the city, you have to go to where the locals live. So if you’re staying in Melbourne, take the tram to Port Melbourne, St Kilda, Middle Park or Elwood.  Find an independent (mom & pop) Fish & Chip shop in the main shopping street – look for one with a decent queue of scruffy locals.  The ones where you sit down at a table with silverware are not what I’m talking about – you need one that does most of it’s business take-away, where they wrap the Fish & Chips in butchers paper.  Order – this is easy.  If you don’t know what to have just ask them for the normal for 2 people (or however many you are).  Normal is about $3 worth of chips plus a piece of battered Flake (usually shark) each. You can also order Dim Sims either steamed or fried – yummo! Get two of each just to try.  They often do great hamburgers at these places too.  Take your paper-wrapped dinner to the beach, and grab a six-pack of beer on the way at the local bottle shop.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not leave your rubbish on the beach after your dinner!!

4. Loch Ard B&B, near Loch Ard Gorge.  This is just the best boutique accommodation on the Great Ocean Road!  Owners Win and Don are wonderful hosts.  The location is just incredible – just inland from Loch Ard Gorge, in the farmland, with wild Kangaroos on the grounds in the morning and afternoon.  We stay here on the second night of our Great Ocean Road 3 day tour.

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Loch Ard B&B showing the ocean in the background.

5. Great Ocean Road 3 Day tour.  Come with us, and enjoy all the wildlife and hidden spots on this popular scenic coastline.  There is a surprising diversity of wildlife on the coastline, and our Wildlife Guides know where to look for animals. We often see Bandicoots, Seals, Penguins or Echidnas as well as Koalas, Kangaroos and Wallabies.  We see some rare and special birds along here as well – Hooded Plovers, Black-faced Cormorants, Rufous Bristlebirds and lots of waterbirds.

Image  <Southern Brown Bandicoot, pic by Paul, Wildlife Guide

Friday Five: great outdoor things to do in Vic 24 August 2012

1. St Kilda Penguins and Rakali.  Inner suburban St Kilda has a wonderful population of wildife!  The breakwater near St Kilda pier is home to a colony of Little Penguins, which can be seen from public viewing areas after dark most nights.  I believe the first chick of the season has already been sighted.  For more go to: http://stkildapenguins.com.au  As a real bonus, while you’re there you might see the Rakali – a sort-of Aussie otter. These gorgeous water mammals live in a few places around the city but are rarely seen because they mostly come out after dark. I’ve seen one in East Gippsland during the day once, and it was so exciting!  Don’t let the old name “Water Rat” fool you – they are nothing like a rat really, they are big, glossy and very exciting to watch.  I believe that the study group welcomes volunteers to come out and help survey them.  This would be a great school holiday project for older kids.  Go to: http://www.rakali.com/

2. Tower Hill, one of my favourite places.  Tower Hill is an example of how people can recreate a beautiful natural landscape.  A marvellous painter, Eugene von Guerard, did a painting of Tower Hill in the 1850’s before it was cleared for farming.  His work was so detailed that it was used in the 1960’s to revegetate the park.  You wouldn’t believe it now.  Forest full of koalas and birds now grows where there were bald hills only 50 years ago.  See: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/tower-hill-w.r for details.  Make sure you pop in to Worn Gundidj Natural History Centre – they have lots of information and beautiful local artworks to see and buy. I particularly love their local textile range.  The designs are magnificent, and not found anywhere else. http://www.worngundidj.org.au/

overlooking Tower Hill with the coast in the background

3. Echidna Walkabout’s Great Ocean Road 3 day tour.  At this time of year you can see the coastline as it really is: wild, free and untamed.  It’s easy to imagine ships wrecking on the reefs and rocks 200 years ago.  Wildlife loves it at this time of year.  Stand at the Twelve Apostles on dusk and look out for Little Penguins coming ashore way down on the beach below.  We’ve even seen wild Brolga once on a trip at this time of year. http://www.echidnawalkabout.com.au/en/tours/gor

4. Deen Maar Indigenous Protected Area and Eumeralla Backpackers.  I visited this wonderful place last year for the first time and can’t wait to get back.  There is so much wildlife on this, the first of Victoria’s Indigenous Protected Areas, that it confirms my belief that Australia’s indigenous people are still the best land managers in Australia.  Congratulations go to the Gunditjmara People who are managing the site.  The best way to explore this area is to stay at Eumeralla Backpackers, and arrange a visit from there.  The managers there are lovely, and really helpful.  http://www.moyne.vic.gov.au/page/Page.asp?Page_Id=480&h=1

5. Possums!  Most of Melbourne’s city parks have a population of Common Brushtail Possums.  They come out at night, or just on dusk, and scamper around the grass like little wallabies.  They are adorable, and I think, a must-see for any visitor to Melbourne.  What’s great too, is that seeing them is free!  All you need to do is walk down to the closest park to your hotel and walk around a bit.  If it’s really dark it would help to take a torch/flashlight.  Don’t touch them – they are wild animals with sharp teeth and might accidentally bite you.  Council asks that you don’t feed them, and there’s no need to – they will bounce around you quite happily if you stay still.  Interestingly, though they are called Common Brushtails they are no longer very common in natural bushland.  You are much more likely to see them here than most natural areas.