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||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 4 to 6
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||cuddly-looking, pre-digested, sleepy-looking, undeveloped, nipple, hairless, refuses, eyesight, mating, arrival, koala, eaters, nocturnal, eucalyptus, digest, picky
By Cindy Grigg
1 A fluffy gray ball sits in the top of a tree. Slowly, the ball begins to move. You see a sleepy-looking face. You see four furry legs. It's a koala! Koala is an Australian word that means "animal that does not drink." Koalas get all the water they need from the juicy eucalyptus leaves they eat.
2 Many people call them "koala bears." They are not bears at all. They belong to a group of animals called marsupials. Marsupials are animals that give birth to babies that are still small and undeveloped. They stay in the mother's pouch for several more months as they continue to grow. Kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and opossums are other marsupials.
3 Australia is the only place to find koalas in the wild. They once lived in many places on that island continent. Now they can only be found along its east coast. The koalas that live toward the north where the climate is warmer have reddish fur coats that are short and light. Southern koalas have dark gray fur. They are larger than their northern cousins. Their fur is longer and thicker, too.
4 Koalas are most active at night. We say they are nocturnal. They are born with a good sense of smell. They also have a keen sense of hearing. They do not rely much on their eyesight. They have eyes that are small compared to other nocturnal animals' eyes.
5 Koalas are picky eaters. They eat almost nothing except eucalyptus leaves. Many of the animals will only eat certain leaves of certain trees. Most other animals find eucalyptus leaves bad tasting. They are hard to digest. But koalas have a special stomach that lets them eat those leaves. Koalas learn to eat only the older leaves of the eucalyptus tree. Young leaves have a deadly poison.
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