It is common to hear people ask, “Do koalas attack humans?” Especially when they visit these cute and cuddly marsupials.
Koalas make up the list of Australia’s most beloved animals, and they are famous for their adorable faces, fuzzy ears, and relaxed demeanor.
However, as cute and cuddly as they may appear, it is natural to be curious about the dangers they may pose to you.
After all, they are part of a large group of wild animals. Here, we’ll examine whether koalas attack humans and take a deeper look at their behavior.
Additionally, we’ll explore the potential risk they may pose to humans and give you tips on staying safe when you enter their territory.
So, Do Koalas Attack Humans?
Yes. Koalas attack humans but in rare cases when they feel threatened, stressed, or cornered. The animals are relatively docile and spend most of their time sleeping and eating eucalyptus leaves.
There are very few scenarios when koalas attack humans, and they are generally not known for that.
When Can Koalas Launch An Attack On Humans?
Koalas do not naturally attack humans as they are generally docile animals. However, a few circumstances can lead to a koala being aggressive and launching an attack on a human. They include:
Threat To Their Offspring
It is very natural for animals to protect their offspring and ensure the continuity of their community. A potential threat to a Koala’s offspring is a major reason it might attack a human.
When a koala sees a human encroaching on their young ones or even trying to touch them, it will immediately launch an attack to protect them.
Koalas are very territorial animals, just like lions. Since they like to take pride in their territory, they might attack any human trying to invade their space.
A koala once attacked a woman walking her dog in nature by snapping its jaws on her leg. Later, she had to get 12 stitches for the injury to heal. It is a perfect example showing that Koalas don’t like human encroachment in their territories.
Threat To Their Safety
Like any other animal, Koalas will become highly aggressive when they sense a potential threat. There was an incident in Queensland where a koala vigorously scratched thieves who tried to steal it.
The incident left the thieves with lots of lacerations and scratches. In another unrelated incident, a woman trying to hug a cute koala in Queensland was attacked by a koala after it felt threatened.
Ways In Which Koalas Attack
Koalas have solid limbs and teeth to survive out in the wild and lay attacks on their threats. Their sharp and chisel-shaped front teeth are capable of piercing through the human skin quickly, causing lousy bleeding.
They also have sharp claws on their limbs, useful in climbing trees and scratching their threats. Their claws can deeply penetrate human skin, injuring one’s blood vessels. At other times they can even urinate on you as an indirect attack.
Chlamydia In Koala’s Urine
Koala’s urine contains chlamydia which is an STD that affects humans. However, different strains of the infection affect Koalas.
Though not every koala is infected with the STD, over 80% of them, have it, with around 50% inheriting it from others in Australia alone.
If a human comes in contact with or is exposed to a koala’s urine, they can contract chlamydia. Even though the disease can be cured with some antibiotics, it can be challenging to treat if it spreads to many humans.
Koalas suffering from chlamydia will experience symptoms like; general blindness, eye infections, infertility, and bladder infection.
In October of 2021, large-scale vaccination of Koalas started in Australia to save this vulnerable animal, as they are approximately 330,000 left in the wild today. If they continue dying, humans might witness the extinction of another beautiful nature animal.
Tips To Stay Safe In Koala Territory
If you encounter one of these cute and cuddly marsupials in the wild, it is best to keep your distance, or they may get aggressive. Even though their attack cannot cause much harm, it can still significantly harm your body.
So what should you do if a koala launches an attack on you? Which clothes could protect you from their claws? How could you avoid getting an STI from a koala? Here are tips on staying safe in Koala territory:
1. Avoid Being Noisy
Koalas do not like to be stressed or get openly displayed. Loud noise greatly contributes to their stress and can cause them to feel highly vulnerable and irritated.
Their aggressive behavior will increase when you are within a 16ft radius, and your noise might alert them to incoming danger.
Therefore, if you want to avoid a koala attack, try to be quiet when you enter a zone with a koala, especially when visiting them in the wild.
2. Avoid Their Urine
The claws of a Koala are not the only dangerous things you should be looking out for; their pee is also quite harmful. With over 80% of wild koalas infected with chlamydia in the wild, you do not want to have a koala urinate on you.
If you are in a zoo, only touch a koala with the help of a guide who properly knows how to handle them.
3. Dress Properly
When heading out to the eucalyptus trees that koalas love, ensure you are in the right gear. Once in the koala’s territory, you never know when one might unexpectedly act out with its sharp claws.
Putting on a thick layer of clothing like long pants and a jacket will offer you extra protection for your soft skin. Remember, you can never tell what a koala might be up to in its territory.
4. Pry Them Off
The first three tips will help you get off their claws and urine, but you must watch out for their sharp teeth. Koalas will not hesitate to use their teeth to inflict serious injuries, even if you mean no harm to them.
Once they bite you, they will not let go. The only way to get free is by forcefully prying its mouth open or the person you are trying to help get off a koalas bite.
In 2022, a family walking in the bush crossed paths with a koala that charged at a small child, bit him, and refused to let go. The attack only ended when a man managed to pry the koala off the boy.
5. Watch Your Dogs
Even though you find your dog adorable, a koala will not. Your curious dog can come close to the wild animal, intriguing it to get aggressive and attack the dog.
The best way of protecting your dog in the koala territory is by keeping it on a leash in the Koala territory.
Though Koalas are dangerous to dogs, dogs are also hazardous to Koalas. In Australia, it is more common for koalas to be killed by dogs than koalas to even attack dogs.
Almost 100 koalas are taken to Moggil Koala Hospital, Australian Wildlife Hospital, and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital every year. Even when humans intervene with hospitalization, around 75 % of those attacked by dogs still pass away.
Sure, your dog might seem tough, but it endangers the existence of the most vulnerable koala in the world. Having your dog on a leash is best to help protect this endangered species.
Dangers That Koalas Pose To Drivers
Koalas are dangerous to motorists in Australia, just like the white-tail deer does to American motorists. Koalas that try to cross Australian roads risk getting hit by cars and dying.
A record from the animal hospitals indicates that an average of 300 Koalas get hit by cars annually, just in Southeast Queensland. Most advocates advise drivers to be careful, especially at night, and observe the Koala crossing signs.
Koalas are more active during the night, particularly between July and September. Careful driving is critical to ensure that accidents are avoided and that koalas and human lives are saved.
In February 2021, a koala moving across the street in Adelaide, Australia, caused a five-car pileup.
The damage caused to the vehicles was catastrophic even if there were no serious injuries and no one died, including the koala. The koala was saved by a woman who captured it with her coat.
In November 2016, a koala in Lilliput, Australia, was seen in the middle of the road as two men drove by.
The driver had to swerve to avoid it and crashed into a nearby tree. The two men only sustained minor injuries from the crash, but their car was wrecked.
At the expense of the car, the koala was saved, and it lived to see another beautiful day. These incidents describe how critical it is to drive carefully on roads that run in koala territory.
So, if you were asking, “do koalas attack humans?” We believe you now know what to expect. While koalas are docile, cute, and cuddly, they will only attack humans in rare circumstances, such as when they feel threatened.
Observing these fascinating marsupials in their natural habit and appreciating their beauty is possible with proper precaution and respect. Ultimately, ensuring these cute and vulnerable animals thrive in the next generations is up to you.