Which animal sleeps 18-22 hours per day due to its strange diet?

And the answer: Koalas.
Photo credit: Diliff

Koalas eat a steady diet of eucalyptus leaves, which are technically poisonous. Their digestive systems naturally have a difficult time processing their food, requiring koalas to do a fair amount of snoozing.

Although “koala bears” are recognized for their cuddly, teddy bear-like appearance, koalas are actually marsupials! The marsupial family is defined by the mother’s ability to grow and raise her young in a pouch on her stomach (think: kangaroos). This means that koala babies, called joeys, spend about six months in their mother’s pouches, before then spending the following six months riding on her back (talk about a freeloader!).    

Koalas get their name from an Aboriginal word meaning “no drink.” This name originates in the early belief that koalas didn’t need to drink water, as they got all their necessary hydration from Eucalyptus leaves. While it’s true that koalas very rarely drink water, they are known to do so in very hot weather.

Like primates, koalas have five digits on each front paw, two of which are opposed to the others like our own human thumbs. This helps the koala to hold firmly onto tree branches and grip their food. The second and third digits on their hind paws are fused together to form a grooming claw.

Fun fact!

Koalas have fingerprints! These marsupials are the only animals other than primates that have them—and just like us, no two fingerprints are the same. They also have unique patterns on their noses, which helps wildlife biologists to identify and track them.

As a nocturnal species, you might not have much luck spotting one of these sleepy, lovable creatures on your next Australian safari—but rest assured, they’re certainly dreaming of Eucalyptus somewhere. Learn more about the koala here.

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