Why Climate Change Is Making Koalas Thirsty

Australian koalas are drinking much more water than they used to—and it’s likely because of hot, dry weather aggravated by climate change.Koalas, which normally spend most of their time in the safety of eucalyptus trees, have begun to climb down and drink from artificial water stations provided by University of Sydney researchers. The koalas of Gunnedah, a town in southeastern Australia often referred to as the “Koala Capital of the World,” were drinking from the stations for more than 10 minutes on average, according to a press release from the university.Koalas are leaving their trees even when they would normally be asleep, according to university researchers. The animals can sleep up to 18 hours a day in trees, and their primary diet consists of eucalyptus leaves, which they often eat at night. They can eat up to two and a half pounds of leaves per day.Researchers think the koalas’ newfound thirst is because the leaves that used to keep them hydrated are drying out as Gunnedah gets hotter and drier. The leaves used to provide enough water for the koalas that they didn’t need to drink in addition. In fact, prior research suggests that koalas reject leaves with water contents less than 55 to 65 percent.You Might Also Like