Koalas are marsupials known for their small bodies, fluffy fur, and large heads. These animals live throughout various parts of eastern and southern Australia, feeding on leaves from eucalyptus plants. However, it’s not common to see a lot of koalas together. That has led to people wondering what one would even call such a gathering. Discover what a group of koalas is called and how it’s applied to the creatures!
What Are Groups of Koalas Called?
A group of koalas is called a colony. However, that is not an official term, but it is often applied to these creatures for simplicity. According to the Australian Koala Foundation, groups of koalas are usually simply called populations or colonies.
The reason for these non-specific names is that most koalas do not spend significant time with other members of their species. For the most part, these creatures live in small, overlapping ranges with other koalas. They stay somewhat close to each other given the amount of time and energy required to move long distances. Also, it helps a koala have a close range to another koala so they can breed.
As a result, few names for a group of koalas exist. People from Australia have commented on the lack of a collective noun for these marsupials. Some people have suggested that they should be called a variety of terms including a cuddle, torpor, doze, and others.
Origins of the Collective Nouns
The two most accepted terms for a group of koalas are colony and populations. The term ‘colony’ is often used as the most sterile way to describe a group of creatures that are living in an area. Thus, using ‘colony’ makes a lot of sense in this situation. The word ‘population’ is just as descriptive and easily applied to any group of animals.
Since people have suggested other names for a group of koalas, it’s a good idea to take a look at some of them as well. One person in the aforementioned news story suggested a cuddle. That could make sense given that these animals are very soft and their young often hitch a ride on their mothers.
Yet, this is a short-term living situation for both animals. Furthermore, groups of animals are rarely named for their interactions with their mothers.
Another potentially great term would be a ‘torpor’. That refers to the fact that koalas can spend upwards of 20 hours a day sleeping! Despite the terms torpor and cuddle being more interesting and specific than colony or population, they’re not likely to come into mainstream usage.
Do Koalas Live Together?
For the most part, koalas do not live together in families in the same area. Most of the time, it’s hard to find two koalas that are not mother and child living together. Instead, they live close to one another in home ranges. These home areas can vary in size depending on their location.
These ranges overlap with one another, especially when it comes to a dominant male and various females. Koala ranges will share borders with other members of their species. That way, they can have their own area in which to find the eucalyptus plants upon which they feed while staying close enough for breeding. Non-dominant males will live close to females as well, but they’ll usually situate themselves farther away from the dominant male’s range.
In spring, the male koalas will start to use their calls to attract a female. They may encounter and fight other males that are vying for the same females, thus subjecting them to a contest that determines which male is superior.
Once the koalas have bred, the male does not stick around to take care of its young. Then again, there isn’t much it can do for the young as it feeds in the mother’s pouch for many months.
Reasons Koalas May Congregate
Seeing a population or a colony of koalas is very rare. That’s why there is no official name for what a group of koalas is called. Still, humans can see more than one koala together for a few reasons. Two of the most common reasons that koalas can congregate with each other are for breeding and offspring care.
Breeding Rights and Fights
Koalas are like many other breeding animals in Australia. The male members of the species will call out to nearby females to breed with them. Also, when a male is trying to mate with a female, the female may attempt to fight off her would-be paramour.
Such an act and accompanying noise may attract other males that want to breed. When they arrive, the males will fight each other for the right to breed. These fights lead to the emergence of a dominant male. For a short time, though, several koalas could be in a single area. That would be a true colony or population of koalas.
However, this is far from a long-lasting, ongoing, or cooperative grouping of these animals.
Offspring Care and Development
Another reason that koalas congregate is while caring for offspring. After the joey is born, it crawls into the mother’s pouch where it stays for several months. Eventually, the baby will come out of the pouch, and it will start to ride on the mother’s back while she travels to find sustenance.
These two koalas will stay together for many months until the joey is displaced by the following year’s offspring or until it’s ready to find its own range. The offspring will stay somewhat near its mother’s range at first before venturing farther away over time.
What Are Baby Koalas Called?
Baby koalas are called joeys. These babies do not resemble full-grown koalas when born. Instead, they look more like pink beans. They are only about three-quarters of an inch long, and they have to follow a scent trail on their parents to reach the pouch. There, they will stay for several months until they’re ready to emerge.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Alizada Studios/Shutterstock.com
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