Do Koalas drink water?

Koala Drinking Water.jpg

The recent insights into koala’s water intake challenge previous assumptions about how they acquire water in their diet. While it was believed that koalas unintentionally obtained water from leaf moisture in eucalyptus leaves or rain, new research suggests a more intentional approach to water consumption.  

As nocturnal and arboreal creatures spending 98% of their lives in trees, koalas rely on trees for their water needs. Koalas exhibit a behavior called "tree-licking" during rainfall, scientifically referred to as "stemflow." This unique practice involves koalas licking water running down the smooth surface of tree trunks. Challenging the traditional understanding emphasising reliance on leaf moisture for hydration, the discovery of stemflow introduces an additional water source for these intriguing creatures. 

Koalas face metabolic water loss when the ambient temperature exceeds 35 degrees Celsius. On hot days, the moisture content in their diet can compensate for this water loss, provided the evening temperature drops below 28 degrees Celsius. In cases where night-time temperatures do not decrease adequately, koalas actively seek free water sources. Koalas also have various strategies, such as panting and leaning against tree trunks, to cool down and dissipate body heat. 

To preserve energy, koalas maintain a sleep routine of around 20 hours per day, a response to the substantial energy requirements of digesting their diet. This nocturnal way of life, combined with their reliance on trees for sustenance, refuge, and water, highlights the arboreal nature of koalas and their unique adaptations. They venture to the ground exclusively when searching for alternative food sources or mates or under urgent circumstances, such as during droughts when the leaves lack sufficient water content or in periods of no rainfall, depriving them of access to water flowing down tree trunks - thus seeking a water source like seen in the above photo.




Eats leaves, licks trees: how koalas get enough water to live | Australia news | The Guardian

How do koalas drink? Scientists find it’s not what we think | Wildlife News | Al Jazeera :::

Study Finds How Koalas Drink (

Scientists solve mystery of how koalas get water without leaving trees | CBC News

The Koalas' Diet & Digestion - Australian Koala Foundation (

Learn about Koala drinking habits | Koalas in the Clarence Valley | Clarence Conversations

University of Sydney study finds koalas drink water from tree trunks | KidsNews