The koala is a native animal to Australia, belonging to the marsupial class of mammals. It is most closely related to the wombat, another Australian native. The koala is often erroneously referred to as the koala bear outside of Australia, due to similarities in appearance to a bear, but it is technically incorrect.
Koala are found in the southeastern areas of Australia, from Adelaide to Queensland, but not in Tasmania. The koala has large, sharp claws to assist with climbing tree trunks. Weight varies from about 14 kg for a large southern male, to about 5 kg for a small northern female. The koala's five fingers include two opposable thumbs, providing better gripping ability. An interesting fact is that koalas are one of the few mammals that have fingerprints similar to human.
The koala survive mostly on a diet of eucalypt tree leaves, which is an "ecological niche" since eucalypt leaves are low in protein, high in indigestible substances, and contain compounds toxic to most animals. Like wombats and sloths, the koala has a very low metabolic rate for a mammal and rests motionless for about 16 to 18 hours a day, sleeping most of that time. Of the remaining awake time, 3 to 5 hours are spent eating.