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How do You Check on the Health of a Koala?

  • Tuesday 1st April 2014


Hello animal lovers! Keeper Kylie here. It is with great pleasure that I have the opportunity to present to you WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo's Keeper Blog!

Fortnightly I will be delivering to you behind the scenes updates from all the departments at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. You will be privy to the most recent animal news, quirky animal facts, the latest baby news and a lot of information on how to help your local wild life.

Today's Keeper Fact: How We Health Check Our Koalas

It is very difficult to count the exact number of leaves that a koala will eat in a day. With all that fur, checking body condition can also be tricky.

At WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo we weigh our koalas weekly to keep an eye on their health. Once the weight is recorded we then do a body condition test. This involves feeling the scapular (a bone near the shoulder and spine of the koala) and determining the muscle mass around that bone.

Are You Hydrated?

We also do a hydration test. This involves the keepers softly pinching and moving the skin on the koala's back or side. When you let the skin go you watch the rate that the skin returns to the normal position. You can do this test on yourself! Just gently pinch the skin on the back of your hand, gently pull it up and release it. The slower your skin moves back to place the less hydrated you are. Maybe you should go get a drink of water just to be sure…

Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed

Daily we visually health check the koalas by looking for clear, bright eyes (when they are awake of course), clean nose and mouth, fur is neat and well-kept and that their cloaca (bottom) is poo free. We also look for changes of consistency the koala's poo! Just a side note: a healthy koala will do around 100 pellets of poo a day- just in case you were interested :)

Here we have little Bruce being weighed. He is now weighing in at 4.30 kg! Bruce still has a long way to go until he is as big as his friend Bill who is a big 8.65kg. Our biggest koala we have ever had was Bill's dad Bob. His heaviest weight was 9.48kg.

Well there you go animal lovers. Thanks for dropping by.

Catch you next time…

Keeper Kylie :)