For the Koala’s, mating generally occurs between December and March. They don’t see to have the natural instinct for reproducing though at the same level as many other animals. Females and males are ready to mate between 2 and 3 years of age.
Males and females attract each other for mating through deep bellowing calls and scents. The males usually will initiate them and wait for females to respond. They may grow a great deal during this process as a warning to other males to stay out of that area. They can become highly aggressive during the time of the year when they are looking for females to mate with.
The mating ritual isn’t long and the males are often seen biting the females on the back of the neck. The making process lasts two minutes or less and then they go their own ways. Mating can use up energy and the Koala doesn’t have much of it to spare. If the Koalas feel stressed or they don’t have enough food then they may avoid mating.
There are reports of mating occurring in many areas of Australia but no offspring being produced. Through careful research it is believed that a microorganism known as Chlamydia is found there. It can be transferred from one Koala to another through sexual contact. It can also make them sterile which means they aren’t able to reproduce even though they can take part in mating.
This can be a serious problem because it can result in areas where the Koalas live having a very low number of offspring in the future to replenish the population. Efforts are being made to identify all of the various microorganisms in their environment that can contribute to this problem. Hopefully they can be eliminated to help the Koalas with reproducing successfully.
The females don’t produce young all the time. In fact, they average a new baby about every 2 or 3 years. As a result the rate of growth among these animals is extremely slow. Even with zoos and various organizations out there doing all they can they are at a high risk of extinction.
Once a female is carrying young, she will give birth only about 35 days later. It is almost always one baby that is born. However, there are some confirmed cases of twins arriving.
The young are called joeys, and they are born without any hair on them. They are completely helpless at birth. These youngsters are blind and they don’t have any years yet to hear. Based on instinct alone they make their way to the pouch of the mother. Here they will remain safe from the outside world until they are about six months old.
While they are in the pouch they go through a complete cycle of development. Hair forms on the body that protects them from the elements. While in the pouch though the body heat from the mother keeps them warm. They also grow ears and their eyes open up. They consume milk from the mother while in the pouch.
When the young are about six months of age they come out of the pouch. They will spend the next six months riding on her back. They are also introduced to the eucalyptus leaves that they will feed on. They can still go back into the pouch to sleep, for protection, and to drink milk.
When the young females are about a year old they will venture off to make their own homes.