7 min read

7 Koalas Who Just Want To (Literally) Chill With You

<p><em>Flickr/Jimmy Baikovicius</em></p>

If you live in Australia, you might see a wild koala or two during the hottest days of the summer if they're in need of some shade or a drink. While not all koalas are as outgoing, these curious critters demonstrate why Aussies are more than willing to entertain the marsupials on the roads, in their backyards - and sometimes even in their homes - when they need to beat the heat.

1. This koala is happy to share from your water bottle.

(YouTube/durianrider)
This cyclist is kind enough to stop and offer the overheated koala some refreshment from his water bottle until the little guy is hydrated. Generally, koalas don't need to drink water, because they get most of their hydration from eucalyptus leaves; in fact the name ‘koala' is said to mean ‘no drink' in an Aboriginal language. But in the middle of heat waves, koalas can become severely dehydrated if they don't find something to drink - and the parched critters often seek out help from humans.

2. This koala will help himself, thanks.

(YouTube/Jason Kennard)

While a local couple dines on their deck, this thirsty koala politely sips at their animal companion's water bowl without disturbing them. For their part, the humans also decline to interrupt the thirsty koala (save for filming a quick video, of course!).

3. This koala loves what you've done with the place.

(YouTube/Alicia Alexander)

Koalas reside in a small group of "home trees," but this koala wants to see how the other half lives, taking a short tour around a human home while escaping the southern Australian heat. The koala - who is offered a drink, but declines - takes a stroll around the home, and after a nice (cool) visit, she is eventually coaxed outside into a shady tree.

(YouTube/Alicia Alexander)

4. This koala appreciates your attentiveness.

(YouTube/Christine C)

Why so thirsty, little guy? As the woman holding the camera explains, the gum trees that provide koalas with their steady diet of eucalyptus leaves were especially dry, thanks to a drought.

5. This koala is all about self-service.

(YouTube/Alicia Alexander)

Increasing habitat loss and bushfires are forcing more and more koalas into contact with humans as they seek relief from droughts and dangerously high temperatures. Some compassionate Australians are working to help save koalas in their area by planting eucalyptus trees and building makeshift water stations, like the one above. This very thirsty koala was more than grateful for his bucket holder, rigged by this homeowner for his parched pal.

6. This koala doesn't even need a dish.

(YouTube/Tracey Vale)

This koala is a regular visitor around one woman's Adelaide Hills home. The caring neighbor noticed her guest seemed especially weary due to the early February heat wave, having climbed down an ash tree for some extra relief from the sun. The woman immediately offered the young female koala a cool drink from the hose she had handy.

7. This koala will trade you a hug for the chance to chill out.

(YouTube/Alicia Alexander)

This adorable koala offers a cuddle in return for a bucket of water, in the best tradition of koala diplomacy. He even had to be enticed to leave the company of its new human friend for a sturdy branch as night began to fall. What a pleasant guest!

Unfortunately, koalas are still suffering from habitat loss, overcrowding, diseases, predation by dogs and cats, and traffic-related accidents that leave many koalas injured or dead every year. The Australian Koala Foundation reports that more than 4,000 koalas are killed by dogs and cars annually. But many Australian organizations and individuals are making efforts to live cooperatively with koalas, taking precautions and educating themselves about koalas in order to learn the best practices for helping the marsupials if they live nearby or pop in for a visit.

(YouTube/Alicia Alexander)

In all of these examples, wild koalas (out of their own apparent curiosity) approached humans who live in or around the koalas' home range. Wild animals should never be forced into unnatural settings or fed anything outside their natural diet.