Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Manna gum leaves are koalas top food

A koala's favourite food is the leaves of the manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis), although they also eat the leaves from swamp gums, Tasmanian blue gums, river red gums and yellow box. Koalas are fussy about their food, eat up to 1 kg of gum leaves every day and usually select the youngest most tender leaves.

The name koala comes from an Aboriginal word that means "no drink". This is because koalas usually get enough to drink from the gum leaves, and any dew or rain that has collected on the leaves. Koala droppings (see the photo with the droppings that have fallen onto the timber ledge of the boardwalk) fall from the tree, are dry and smell of eucalyptus. Other photos show claw marks on the trunks of trees.

The manna gum growing at the entrance to the Koala Conservation Centre is estimated to be over 200 years old. Its massive trunk and pale twisted branches are impressive. The manna gums growing within the 6h sanctuary feed the resident koalas and provide an attractive parklike forest -- with the wetland alongside studded with water birds.

Our outing to the Koala Conservation Centre was chosen as a pick-me-up for Doug who had a large skin cancer cut from his forehead the day before. He needed something quiet and interesting to take his mind from his sore and aching head.

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