As koalas rely almost totally on the moisture they obtain from the eucalypt leaf they eat, most populations are thus found occupying better quality eucalypt forests close to water courses and more fertile soils.
Where koalas are able to live in undisturbed forests free of human interference, the colonies tend to be much healthier and do not suffer the diseases and problems that koalas face who live at the human/bush interface such as urban and rural areas.
Reasons for Admission to the Koala Hospital
The number one reason that koalas come into care is because of a bacterial disease called Chlamydiosis. This bacterium can affect the eyes of the koala and/or the urogenital tract. The hospital has a number of diagnostic tools (ultrasound, blood tests, swabs, clinical signs etc) to ascertain the level of damage to the koala’s internal organs and usually makes decisions on the koalas treatment options based on this.
Since the late 1970’s, the hospital has been working alongside the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney researching Chlamydia and other diseases in koalas. During this time a number of PhD students have undertaken their project work at the Koala Hospital and as a result a large bank of koala pathology information is held for researchers worldwide at the University.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
The second biggest reason for admission to the hospital is koalas being hit by motor vehicles. Depending on the level of trauma to the animals we have a reasonably good success rate with treating this problem. It is very distressing to admit a healthy, fit young animal who has their whole future in front of them but whose injuries are so bad they die before we can treat them or shortly after arrival.
As motor vehicle injures are usually quite traumatic to the koala, it can often be a long rehabilitative process but every koala is given the best possible chance to recover.
Sadly this is a major problem for not only koalas but all wildlife. Domestic and feral cats also kill wildlife and are quite capable of taking a joey or young koala too. Unfortunately the koala sees all trees in their home range as part of their territory and if that means going into a backyard to have a feed then that is what the koala will do. The dog also sees the backyard as their territory and here is where conflict arises. Often the injuries are not all that visible externally but the koala has usually suffered horrific internal injuries that are beyond treatment.