Monday, August 15, 2011

The Sleepy Koala

Today is National Relaxation Day in the U.S.; a day that’s supposed to be celebrated by kicking back and not doing much of anything at all. Of course being as it’s a Monday there may not be much relaxation in store for many of us, but we can all take comfort in the fact that there is at least one animal that will have no trouble at all dozing the day away; the koala.
Koala doing what he does best. Photo: Sanjay Ach
Sometimes incorrectly referred to as koala bears, koalas are actually marsupials related to kangaroos, wombats and opossums and are indigenous to southeastern and eastern Australia. They are sometimes considered the laziest animals in the world due to the fact that they will sleep 18-20 hours per day.

However, this lazy lifestyle is one of necessity. Koalas almost exclusively eat eucalyptus leaves which are extremely low in protein and nutritional content. Therefore, the koala has evolved with a very slow metabolism and requires long periods of inactivity to properly digest and extract the maximum amount of nutrients from the leaves they consume. Of the four hours or so that they are awake each day, koalas spend two hours eating. The rest of the time is spent curled up on a tree branch napping the day away.

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