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Why Do Koalas Spend Their Days Hugging Trees?

Why do koalas turn into tree huggers during Australia’s hot summer months? A June 2014 study published in the journal Biology Letters found that koalas move to the lower parts of a tree and press their bodies close to the trunk in order to cool down. The temperature of the tree trunks, the University of Melbourne researchers found, was several degrees cooler than the air temperature on the hottest days of summer.

Researchers used a thermal camera to take pictures of how the koalas behaved on the hottest days. “You could see the koala sitting on the coolest part of the tree trunk with its bottom wedged right into the coolest spot,” explained university researcher Michael Kearney.

Don't call them bears:

  • Koalas are not bears, so calling them "koala bears" is inaccurate.
  • Koalas are marsupials, which means that their young are born immature and then develop further in the safety of a pouch.
  • Koalas are mostly nocturnal -- they tend to be awake at night and asleep during the day, though this is not a hard and fast rule. Koalas often sleep up to 20 hours a day.

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