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Tree trunks take a licking as koalas source water


Scientists and citizen scientists have observed and documented the natural drinking behaviour of wild koalas for the first time. The marsupial’s survival may depend on this new information.

Koalas are one of the world’s most charismatic animals. But there is a lot we still don’t know about them. For example, how do the marsupials access water in the treetops? Do they only absorb moisture from the gum leaves they eat? Or do they come down from the trees to drink from a waterhole? Until now, no one really knew.

A study published today in Ethology, led by a researcher from The University of Sydney, has captured koala drinking behaviour in the wild for the first time. The paper describes how koalas drink by licking water running down smooth tree trunks during rain. MORE

Header image: old female koala showing natural drinking behaviour after a rain event in the You Yang Regional Park, Victoria, Australia. Credit: Echidna Walkabout and Koala Clancy Foundation.

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