Rescuing and Rehabilitating Koalas

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How to identify a koala in need of help

A healthy koala

how to identify healthy koalas

Healthy koalas have a thick, grey coat with white markings, bright eyes and a rounded full belly. They respond when startled, spend most of their time high in trees (not necessarily a koala food tree), move and climb well and have no discharge from their eyes, nose, mouth, ears or cloaca. Healthy koalas have a pleasant koala smell and being wild animals, will bite and scratch if handled by humans. If they’re on their own and larger than a soccer ball, they’re adults. Koalas smaller than this on their own may be orphans and need to be looked at by an experienced koala rehabilitator.

A sick, injured or orphan koala

how to identify unhealthy koalas

Sick koalas can have red, swollen, pussy or crusty eyes, fur loss anywhere on their body, brown, stained rumps, an unpleasant smell, and their fur is often dry brown or matted. They often have discharges from their mouths, ears, eyes or cloacas.

If sick or injured, their overall body condition is poor. They’re often slow to respond, if at all, to humans and can be touched without responding. They are generally found low to the ground or on the ground except when moving between trees, and can stay in the same tree without moving for more than a few days. Their gait is abnormal or uneven, and they can be disorientated, walking in circles. Some injuries, such as bleeding from any part of their body or broken bones are obvious. However, some injuries, such as dog bites, are often not visible, but if there are dogs in the vicinity there’s always a chance that the dog (no matter how small) has bitten a koala. In these cases you should call our Rescue Hotline on 6622 1233 immediately as unless even a small puncture is treated within twelve hours the animal will probably die.

Koalas smaller than a soccer ball when curled up may be orphans, and need to be assessed by an experienced koala rehabilitator. Pouch or back young koala orphans, where the mother has been killed by a dog or car, need to be placed with an experienced koala rehabilitator immediately.

A koala sitting on the ground, unresponsive to what is around it, is a very sick koala and needs attention IMMEDIATELY.

Call our Rescue hotline (6622 1233) if you live in the Northern Rivers of NSW or your local wildlife organisation if outside this area – search online for your local wildlife organisation.


Report a Koala Sighting

Even if a koala is healthy, we would really like to have that information as it helps build our data base of koalas in the Region.

We have a handy online form to Report a Koala Sighting built right into our website.


FOK’s Licensed Coverage Area

Friends of the Koala Inc. is licensed to carry out rescue and rehabilitation of diseased and injured koalas across five of the local government areas in the Northern Rivers Region of NSW.
fok licensed coverage area for koala rescue and rehabilitation