Phas­co­larc­tos cinereus

Popular Science - - FEATURES -

THESE MARSUPIALS RELY ON EUCALYPTUS TREES FOR EV­ERY­THING: SHEL­TER, food, and wa­ter, even though the leaves are mildly toxic. Un­for­tu­nately, an in­crease in car­bon diox­ide in the at­mos­phere is chang­ing the ba­sic chem­istry of eucalyptus leaves, leav­ing them less nu­tri­tious and more poi­sonous. To make mat­ters worse, ram­pant droughts across Aus­tralia dry out fo­liage, mean­ing less mois­ture for koalas. In parched ar­eas, the crea­tures can die of kid­ney fail­ure brought on by de­hy­dra­tion. Some of these an­i­mals are now drink­ing from wa­ter­ing sta­tions set up by re­searchers. Un­til re­cently, it was thought to be in­cred­i­bly rare for koalas to ac­tu­ally sip liq­uid.

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