Koalas lick tree trunks to quench their thirst when it rains, scientists just learned. It upends what biologists long thought about koalas: that they get almost all the water they need from the eucalyptus leaves they eat.
But koalas probably lap up water like many animals — except they do so from trees, according to the findings published today in the journal Ethology. With fires, heat waves, and droughts putting more and more stress on the critters, scientists have been paying close attention to how koalas are keeping hydrated.
“This significantly alters our understanding of how koalas gain water in the wild. It is very exciting,” lead author of the Ethology paper and University of Sydney researcher Valentina Mella said in a statement.