The koala is a strange little animal that lives only in the eucalyptus forests of Australia. It must live near eucalyptus trees, because their leaves are its only food. In spite of this, its diet is hardly simple. It eats the leaves of about a dozen different kinds of eucalyptus trees. But the eucalyptus sometimes has poison in its leaves, so the koalas must be careful to avoid them at those times.
Koalas smell like cough drops, which are often made from eucalyptus. An adult eats 2 to 3 pounds of leaves a day. Since this very tough, strong-flavored food is hard to digest, the koala has 6 more feet of intestines than other marsupials. During the rare times that it comes down to the ground to change trees, it eats some dirt and stones, which help it to digest the leaves. The koala is an excellent climber that uses its powerful feet with point claws to climb up the smoothest tree trunks. If an animal comes into its territory, the koala lets out harsh grating noises that sound like a saw cutting wood. It never leaves the trees to get water, as it gets enough from the leaves. The name "koala" comes from a native Australian word meaning "no water".
The female usually gives birth to only 1 pup at a time. The pink baby koala is born without hair. For up to 7 months, it grows while staying protected in its mother's pouch. Then it climbs out and clings to her back. It leaves her when it is about 11 months old.