Animals

Thirsty koalas lick water from the trees

Scientists make new discoveries almost every day. And today that discovery is about koalas! Researchers have discovered that the animals cannot hydrate themselves enough by eating eucalyptus leaves, as they long thought. Nopekoalas just lick the water off the trees when it rains.

Scientists have made a new discovery. Or actually: scientists have contradicted their own suspicions. It has long been thought that koalas get all the moisture they need from the eucalyptus leaves they eat. But that’s not true at all: koalas licking trees while it rains!

During or after rain

Recently, one disaster has followed another. Our news is now flooded with reports of the new coronavirus, but before that it was almost constantly about heat waves, wildfires and droughts. And those are three disasters for the way koalas live. So scientists have started to pay more attention to the animals.

And that has yielded something! Because what scientists have long suspected is now being contradicted. This is because previous studies were reviewed. Then scientists occasionally noticed a koala licking a tree during or after a rain shower.

But apparently that happens much more than the scientists thought at the time. The reason for this is simple: when it rains, fewer researchers spend their observations in the open air.

“New” consequences

Not everything the scientists thought turned out to be wrong. They suspected that climate change had a serious impact on the hydration of koalas. And that is indeed the case: if it rains less, koalas also have less drinking water in and on trees.

That’s new, because it was long thought that the higher temperatures and the changing rain pattern caused the eucalyptus leaves that the animals eat to become drier. That view seemed to be confirmed by koalas drinking upright from artificial water sources, which is very unusual.

Scientists continue to install artificial water sources so that dehydrated koalas can continue to hydrate. Only now the location of those water sources will change. Instead of on the ground, koalas will now be able to drink further from trees!

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