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Driven to Drink

A long-held view that koalas get all of their hydration from eating leaves has been overturned by researchers at Sydney University.

The purpose of the study is to help fight the conservation of this threatened species.  The researchers have found that koalas will regularly use artificial water stations, particularly during hot and dry conditions to supplement their hydration.

The study was initiated due to a heatwave in Gunnedah NSW, in 2009 which killed an estimated 1/4 of Gunnedah’s koala population.  The study was to prove if the water stations mitigated the impact of extreme weather.   Their results clearly show koalas will regularly use water stations to supplement their needs. 

During the first 12-months of the study there were 10 water stations placed in the area.  During this period there were 605 koala visits with 401 of them drinking from the stations. During summer the total number of visits doubled, and so did the total numbers drinking time, in comparison to other seasons. 

The findings showed that drinking stations could help koalas during heat and drought events and might help mitigate the effects of climate change.