By Wildlife Guide & Researcher Amy McLean
Lluvia is a very handsome wild male koala. I call him our “Spanish Koala” but don’t worry, like all wild koalas he is Aussie born and bred. He has a Spanish name meaning ‘rain’, and his nose pattern does resemble a pink mustachio!
Read about koala nose patterns here.
Koala Lluvia can be quite elusive. I don’t often see him when I am out guiding or researching. He has a large home range, and like most mature males walks large distances every day, making him a challenge to find.
Koalas usually move at night when it is cooler, but there are no rules in the wild.
This day Lluvia was very high in a tall Yellow Gum, and sitting in what looked like an uncomfortable position. For a koala it is a position of complete rest. His bum was deeply wedged into a fork between two huge branches, all four paws tucked into his belly, his head bowed right over his paws and wedged down into the tree fork.
Given his position, I didn’t expect much movement from him. I began to chat to my guests about Lluvia’s life and history, and why he needs to rest so much. Read about Lluvia’s history and family here.
Suddenly, he looked up straight at us.
“This is exciting- a lot of koala activity!” I whispered to my thrilled guests.
Then he stretched, un-wedged his bum, and climbed down the tree to perch on a tiny snub of an old branch.
“That doesn’t look comfortable! Surely he doesn’t want to be there!”
“Maybe he wants to move again!”
Koala Researcher Caitlin expressed her suspicions he might want to walk to a new tree, but because of how he was staring at us, he might be waiting for us to leave. We backed off even further (we are never closer than 10 metres to a wild koala), and stayed very still.
We can speculate, but koalas have a mind of their own!
Lluvia decided we were beneath his concern, because he proceeded to travel down the tree trunk, all the way to the ground! He stopped and gave us one more unconcerned glance, before strutting off on all fours in the direction of more trees.
This was only the third time I had ever seen a wild koala walking on the ground in my life! We kept our distance and watched him as he sniffed the bases of a few trees on his way. He even climbed up into one very small tree.
After a nibble of those leaves, down he went again, and continued his saunter along the ground. Eventually, around 150m later, he chose a new tree, another Yellow Gum.
We watched him shove leaves into his gob and eat ferociously for a bit before leaving him be. Caitlin stayed back to continue observing his behaviour, and reported that he continued to snack and snack and snack for the next hour.
Read about a Koala Researchers day here.
Lluvia clearly had no care for my explanations about the importance of rest that day.
You can help koalas like Lluvia (and maybe even watch amazing behaviour like this) by participating in a Koala Conservation Day for Locals, or by planting trees on the Koala Recovery Experience.