Both second grade classes I read to are fascinated with nature. From the Wildlife Education, Ltd. series of Zoo Books, we talked about koalas this week. The students already knew they have a big black nose and fuzzy ears, and that they cling to trees. Nocturnal was a new word. "If you get to see them in a zoo or game park, it would be in the daytime and they wouldn't be wide awake. That's why people think they're lazy, but they can move real fast to find food. And they will climb up a tree 150'."
Marsupial was another new word. Not one to use everyday, unless you're studying Australian animals with over 170 pouched varieties. We might not get further than Australia this semester.
What most surprised us is that a newborn koala fits on a nickel. The gestation period is only 30 days. The baby is born blind, hairless and ear-less. Using it's front legs, it crawls into its mother's pouch and attaches to her teat, or it dies. Her pouch is entered from the bottom, where a kangaroo pouch is entered from the top.
The book compared the koala with a human baby. Both look like a shrimp in the early stages. The koala stays in the pouch for about six months to finish growing. Mother opens and closes it to keep her baby from falling out. When baby gets too big, it rides on her back.
Their front leg hands have pinky, ring, and tall man. The index finger is a thumb that lays parallel to the other thumb. Their back leg hands have pinky and ring, with tall man and index growing together, and a thumb that has a small ball on its end. And their fingernails are very long and sharp. "If you ever get a chance to hold a koala, put one hand high on its back and the other under its bottom, or it will sink its claws in your shoulder."
Koalas eat very specific eucalyptus leaves that are poisonous to other animals, which makes their life difficult outside of Australia.
There are big cats, snakes, elephants and other creatures in the series. I'm looking forward to them, too.
2013 Red Convertible Travel Series