Are Koalas actually Bears? Are Pandas actually Bears?

Are Koalas actually Bears? Are Pandas actually Bears?

Bear-like in appearance, with their rounded ears, plush fur, and black noses, koalas aren’t actually bears. Pandas, on the other hand, are true to form.

There are few animals on Earth cuter than the cuddly koala. They are sometimes called Australia’s teddy bears, but koalas are in fact more closely related to the rat-like American opossum than the impressive American grizzly bear.

Koalas are marsupials, which means they raise their young in special pouches, just like kangaroos, wallabies, and wombats, which are also indigenous to Australia. Their young, called Joeys, are about the size of a large Jelly Bean when born and must make their way through their mother’s fur to the protection of the pouch if they are to survive. As a baby grows, it starts making trips outside the pouch, clinging to its mother’s stomach or back but returning to the pouch when scared, sleepy, or hungry. When a koala reaches a year old, It’s usually large enough to live on its own.

Unlike real bears, koalas spend almost their entire lives roosting in trees, traveling on the ground only to find a new tree to call home. Koalas dine exclusively on eucalyptus leaves, of which there are more than 600 varieties in Australia. Eucalyptus leaves are poisonous to most other animals, but koalas have special bacteria in their stomachs that break down dangerous oils in the leaves.

Until recently, the giant panda, despite its appearance, was also considered a non bear. Some scientists believed pandas were more closely related to the raccoon, whereas others speculated that they were in a group all their own. However, by studying the animals’ DNA, scientists were able to confirm that the giant panda is a closer relative to the bear than it is to the raccoon.

For the most part, giant pandas are loners. They dislike being around other pandas so much that they have a heightened sense of smell that lets them know when another panda is nearby so it can be avoided. If they do come in contact with one another they’ll growl, swat and bite each other until one gives up and leaves.

In the wild, giant pandas are only found in the remote, mountainous regions of central China. In this area, between 5,000 and 10,000 feet elevation, are the cool, wet bamboo forests that giant panda’s call home. A giant panda’s appetite for bamboo is insatiable. They eat bamboo 12 hours a day, which adds up to 28 pounds of bamboo each day. Bamboo is relatively low in nutrients, which is why pandas have to eat so much of it. In the summer, giant pandas will climb 13,000 feet up the mountains of their home area to get enough to eat. The large bears make their dens from hollowed-out logs or stumps of conifer trees found within the forest.

koala panda bear


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