Koala Dictionary

Here are the meanings of some important words as they relate to koalas:
ADAPTED:
Changed or evolved to suit the conditions or environment.
BACTERIA:
Very tiny organisms which cannot be seen without the help of a microscope. Some types of bacteria live in the intestines of healthy koalas to help them digest gumleaves. Other types of bacteria live in the intestines of healthy humans. There are also some bacteria which can cause disease in humans and animals.
BREEDING SEASON:
The time of the year when animals are mating and having young.
CAECUM (pronounced ‘see-kum’):
The part of the Koala’s intestine which plays a very important role in helping to digest the gumleaves. Humans and some other animals also have a caecum, but the Koala’s caecum is unusual because it is very long and has a blind end. It contains the bacteria which assist the Koala to digest its diet of gumleaves. If it were’nt for the caecum, Koalas wouldn’t be able to munch on gumleaves!
CONSERVATION:
Protecting natural resources such as plants and animals so that they will survive for the future.
DESTRUCTION of HABITAT:
Breaking down or damaging of areas of bushland where the Koalas live. This is what is happening to many Koala forests.
DEVELOPMENT:
The building of housing estates, shops, offices, factories and roads, as well as changing the landscape by mining or agriculture. In many cases, trees are chopped down to make way for these developments. A DEVELOPER is the person or company who builds these developments.
DIGESTION:
The process by which the body breaks down food so that the nutrients can be absorbed into the body.
ECOSYSTEM:
All the living and non-living things, such as the plants and animals etc which live and interact within a particular area.
EUCALYPTUS TREE:
Gum tree - an Australian tree which is the main diet of the Koala. There are over 600 different types of eucalyptus but Koalas only eat a few of these.
EVOLVED:
Developed and changed gradually over many hundreds, thousands or millions of years.
FIBROUS:
Coarse and made up of fibres. Gumleaves are fibrous so they are hard for Koalas to digest.
FRAGMENTED or ISOLATED HABITAT:
Sections of Koala forest which have been cut off from other areas of forest by clearing of the trees for roads, housing estates, farms etc.
HABITAT:
The areas in which an animal lives. The habitat for Koalas is the specific eucalypts which they prefer and the eucalyptus forests where they live.
HOME RANGE:
The area of bushland, or territory in which an individual Koala lives.
HOME TREES:
The specific trees within a Koala’s home range which are regularly visited by that Koala for feeding, resting or shelter.
INTESTINE:
The part of the body in which food is broken down so that it can be absorbed by the body.
IMMATURE:
Not yet fully formed.
JOEY, or JUVENILE:
A young Koala.
KOALA POPULATION or COLONY:
A group of Koalas living in overlapping home ranges.
MARSUPIAL:
An animal which gives birth to very tiny young. The young then grows further in the safety of a pouch. Most marsupials live in Australia.
MICRO-ORGANISMS:
Very tiny organisms, like bacteria, which cannot be seen without the help of a microscope. Some types of micro-organisms live in the intestines of healthy Koalas to help them digest gumleaves. Other micro-organisms can be found in the intestines of healthy humans and other animals and some can also cause disease.
NOCTURNAL:
A nocturnal animal is one which sleeps during the day and is active mainly at night. Koalas are mostly nocturnal. Although they are nocturnal, they may also sleep during part of the night and are sometimes also active during the day. They sleep for up to 22 hours each day.
NUTRITION, NOURISHMENT, NUTRIENTS:
The vitamins and goodness in food which the body needs to be healthy.
PAP:
A runny form of the female Koala’s droppings (faeces) which contains micro-organsims from her caecum. The female produces pap for a short time when the joey is about 6 months old. The joey feeds on the pap so that it will able to digest its diet of fibrous, toxic gumleaves.
REGENERATE:
Re-grow, grow again.
SCENT:
Smell.
SUBURBS:
The areas of a city where people’s homes and local shops are located.
TERRITORY:
An area in which an animal lives and claims as its own.
TOXIC:
Poisonous.
TOXINS:
Poisons.
VETERINARIAN or VET:
A doctor who treats animals.