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AUSTRALIAN ANIMALS

Introduction to Computing
Name: Elise W
Class: 7CAB
Teacher: Mrs Agnew
Due Date: 17.10.2008

Elise Wilson 7CAB

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Elise Wilson 7CAB

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Contents
Koala ............................................................................................................................................................... 4
What is a koala? .......................................................................................................................................... 4
Habitat .................................................................................................................................................... 4
Diet .......................................................................................................................................................... 4
Physiology ............................................................................................................................................... 4
Breeding .................................................................................................................................................. 4
Threats .................................................................................................................................................... 5
Land Clearing .......................................................................................................................................... 5
Bushfires ................................................................................................................................................. 5
Dieback ................................................................................................................................................... 5
Red Kangaroo ................................................................................................................................................. 6
What is a red kangaroo? ......................................................................................................................... 6
Breeding .................................................................................................................................................. 6
Diet .......................................................................................................................................................... 6
Habitat .................................................................................................................................................... 6
Platypus .......................................................................................................................................................... 7
What is a platypus? ................................................................................................................................. 7
Description .............................................................................................................................................. 7
Breeding .................................................................................................................................................. 7
Diet .......................................................................................................................................................... 7
Habitat .................................................................................................................................................... 7
Threats .................................................................................................................................................... 7
References ...................................................................................................................................................... 8


Elise Wilson 7CAB

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Koala

What is a koala?
The koala is a small bear-like, tree-dwelling, herbivorous marsupial which averages about 9kg (20lb) in weight.
Its fur is thick and usually ash grey with a tinge of brown in places.

Habitat
'Habitat' refers to the types of bushland that koalas like to live in. They are found in a range of habitats, from
coastal islands and tall eucalypt forests to low woodlands inland.
Koalas today are found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Their range extends
from the Atherton Tableland west of Cairns in QLD to islands off the coast of Victoria and South Australia in the
south, and west to central and western QLD, NSW and Victoria.

Diet
Koalas are very fussy eaters and have strong preferences for different types of gum leaves, then the most
important factor which make habitats suitable are the presence of tree species preferred by koalas (usually
eucalypts, but also some non-eucalypts) growing in particular associations on suitable soils with adequate
rainfall.
In Australia there are over 600 types of eucalypts, but koalas will not eat a large proportion of these. Within a
particular area, as few as one, and generally no more than two or three species of eucalypt will be regularly
browsed while a variety of other species, including some non-eucalypts, appear to be browsed occasionally or
used for just sitting or sleeping in.
Different species of eucalypts grow in different parts of Australia, so a koala in Victoria would have a very
different diet from one in Queensland. Koalas like a change, too, and sometimes they will eat from other trees
such as wattle or tea tree.

Physiology
The koala is well suited to life in the trees. The koala has an excellent sense of balance and its body is lean and
muscular and its quite long, strong limbs support its weight
when climbing. The arms and legs are nearly equal in length
and the koala's climbing strength comes from the thigh muscle
joining the shin much lower than in other animals. Its paws are
especially adapted for gripping and climbing with rough pads
on the palms and soles helping it to grip tree trunks and
branches. Koalas have a thick woolly fur which protects them
from both high and low temperatures. It also acts like a
'raincoat' to repel moisture when it rains. Koalas are mostly
nocturnal animals and they are most active during the night
and at dawn and dusk.

Breeding
The main characteristics of marsupials which differentiate them from other mammals is that they give birth to
immature young which then develop further in a pouch. The word 'marsupial' comes from the Latin word
marsupium, meaning 'pouch.' Most, but not all marsupials have a pouch in which to raise their young.
The breeding season for koalas runs roughly from September to March. This is a time of increased activity, and
sound levels increase as males bellow more frequently. This is also when the young from the previous year are
weaning from their mothers.

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Threats
Since European settlement, approximately 80% of Australia's eucalypt forests have been decimated. Of the
remaining 20% almost none is protected and most occurs on privately-owned land.

The main causes of loss of habitat include:
Land Clearing
Clearing of the land for expansion of human settlement for
 agriculture
 housing
 mining
 forestry
 factories
 roads

The results of this would include:
 loss of habitat
 increased disturbance by humans
 injury or death from traffic
 injury or death from dogs and cats
 effects of garden pesticides getting into waterways
 increased competition for food and territory because of overcrowding
 Increased stress on animals, making them more susceptible to disease.

It has also been documented that over 4000 koalas are killed each year by dogs and cars. It easy to see that the
biggest threat to the Koala population is the human.

Bushfires
Koala populations in fragmented areas of bushland are at great risk of localised extinction from a single fire
which may wipe out an entire habitat. Bushfires are extremely common in the summer months.

Dieback
Changes in the balance of the ecosystem can lead to dieback of trees. The cutting back of the original vast
forests has created patches of forest separated from each other by treeless land. Small, isolated patches of
forest are prone to dieback. Dieback is a general term for the gradual dying of trees due to factors such as land
degradation, leaching of soil nutrients, changes in the composition of vegetation communities, rising water
levels underground, salination of the soil, erosion caused by wind and water, exposure to weather and
excessive defoliation (or loss of leaves).
The underlying cause of all these factors appears to be the clearing and disturbance of forests. Seventy five
percent of the main koala food tree species are declining in numbers as a result of this.





Elise Wilson 7CAB

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Red Kangaroo
Macropus rufus
Status: Common

What is a red kangaroo?
The red kangaroo is the largest of all the marsupials and live in family groups on the plains and deserts of
Central Australia.
Description Male red kangaroos have short dense woolly fur and are pale to brick red in colour, while the
females are blue-grey, though in some areas both sexes are red. Both have distinctive white below. The muzzle
is dusky, naked and sharply defined with a distinctive black and white patch on each side. Red kangaroos travel
with head down. Males weigh up to 90kg, the females are smaller at 35kg (also known as the "Blue-fliers").
Males can stand over 1.8m tall.

Breeding
Kangaroos breed throughout the year. Newly born young, known
as joeys, weigh less than 1 gram and make their way into the
pouch unassisted by their mother.

Diet
Green herbage, including grasses and herbivorous plants.
Habitat
Red kangaroos are found in central Australia and prefer open plains with scattered shade trees under which
they rest during the day. They are semi-nomadic preferring to graze mostly at night but can extend to late
evening and early morning.
























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Platypus
Ornithorhyncus anatinus
Status: Platypus are common but vulnerable.

What is a platypus?
The platypus is a monotreme, like the echidna but are extremely specialized for an aquatic lifestyle in fresh
water. For many years, platypus were hunted for their thick fur. Platypus are mostly nocturnal and solitary
animals.

Description
Platypus have a broad soft leathery bill, dense water-repellent brown fur, webbed feet and clawed toes. It uses
its webbed front feet for swimming, folding the web under its paw to walk. The Platypus spends much of its
time in the water so its eyes are on the top of its head and the nostrils open on top of its bill. When
submerged, the platypus closes its eyes, nostrils and ear holes relying on the touch receptors on the skin of the
bill for its information.
The platypus's tail is broad and flat, its hind feet are used to help steer and brake while swimming. The hind
ankles of the male have a venomous spur.
Breeding
Mating starts on August in the warmer areas and as late as October in Tasmania. Females lay two eggs and
incubate the eggs by curling her body around them as she lies on a nest of grasses at the end of the burrow.
Eggs hatch in about 2 weeks and young are fed for four to five months on milk that secretes from pore ducts of
the mammary glands on the mothers abdomen.

Diet
Platypus eat a variety of invertebrates such as crustaceans and molluscs. They collect food from the river
bottom and store it in cheek pouches until the reaching the surface. The platypus then floats on its back
chewing the food between horny grinding plates in its mouth.

Habitat
The platypus lives in burrows on the banks of fresh
water streams and lakes of Eastern Australia
including Tasmania. It sleeps most of the day in its
burrow feeding mainly around dawn and dusk. Local
climate may change this behaviour.

Threats
WIRES looks after platypus which are sick, orphaned
or injured due to lacerations from outboard motors, poisoning from pollution, entanglement from netting and
habitat loss.





Elise Wilson 7CAB

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References

Emu n.d., Wires, accessed 21 February 2002, <http://www.wires.au.com/animals/emu.htm>.
Kangaroo n.d., Wires, accessed 21 February 2002, <http://www.wires.au.com/animals/kangaroo.htm>.

The Koala Foundation n.d, accessed 19 February 2002, <http://www.savethekoala.com/>.

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