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Animal Themes
Mammals
Koalas



Koalas
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.74

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    aboriginal, droppings, eucalyptus, hairless, koala, leans, mating, opening, territorial, cases, poisonous, pouch, grunt, rarely, digestive, stays
     content words:    Eastern Australia


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Koalas   

1     Koalas are cute, furry mammals that live in the forests of eastern Australia. They like to make eucalyptus trees their homes. They belong to a group called "marsupials." Marsupials share one common feature a pouch. All marsupials give birth to their babies at a very early stage. Then the young grow and complete their development inside their mother's pouch after birth. Other than koalas, kangaroos and wombats are also marsupials.
 
2     Koalas are territorial animals. They mark their home ranges by leaving their scent or scratching eucalyptus trees with their sharp claws. Their home ranges cover about 15 to 20 eucalyptus trees. Koalas are true tree lovers - they rarely come down from a tree. When they want to move from one tree to another, they simply jump! They only climb down when the distance between two trees is too far or when they need to find a mate. What are koalas doing every day on the trees? They spend as many as 20 hours a day sleeping, and the rest of the time they spend climbing trees, eating, or looking after their babies.
 
3     Koalas are slow-moving because their diet gives them very little energy. Koalas' favorite food is eucalyptus leaves. There are over 600 types of eucalyptus trees in Australia. But a koala eats the leaves of only 2 or 3 kinds. Interestingly, eucalyptus leaves are so poisonous that they can kill most animals. Thanks to their sense of smell and a special digestive system, koalas have no problem eating these leaves. Koalas sniff a eucalyptus leaf first before eating it. They do so to be sure that this leaf is one of their preferred types of eucalyptus. The liver of koalas deactivates the poisons in eucalyptus leaves so that they will not get sick. Koalas rarely drink water. In fact, the word "koala" means "no drink" in several Australian aboriginal languages. Koalas get their water by absorbing moisture from the leaves or from raindrops on the leaves they eat.

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