Koalas drink, licking water flowing down the trunks of trees. This conclusion was made by scientists from the University of Sydney, who for the first time managed to observe this process in the natural habitat of animals. Their work is published in the journal Ethology.
Every day, wild koalas eat about 510 grams of fresh leaves of eucalyptus, and it is believed that the water in the foliage they eat provides about three-quarters of the water they need, both in summer and winter.
However, Australia has experienced the longest drought period in history over the past few years, which is accompanied by high temperatures and, as a result, a decrease in the moisture content in the leaves of eucalyptus. These changes affect koalas strongly – scientists record an increase in cases of death of animals from heatstroke.
In a new study, scientists tried to determine how koalas make up for the shortage of water that they need so much in the heat. To do this, they compared the observation of the behavior of koalas in the wild made by civilian scientists and independent ecologists from 2006 to 2019 in the Yu Youngs Regional Park in Victoria and on the Liverpool Plains in New South Wales.
Researchers then independently monitored the behavior of 44 koalas in their natural habitat in Yu Jans Park.
“For a long time, we thought that koalas do not need to drink much because they get a lot of water necessary for survival from the leaves they eat. But now we saw that they lick water from tree trunks. This significantly changes our understanding of how koalas extract water in the wild. This is very exciting”.
Valentina Mella, lead author of the research