Tuesday, 19 February 2013

I have just had a "conversation" with a koala

in the front garden. He or she was out there drinking from the bird bath when I went out to get the papers.
Yes, koalas do drink water sometimes. If the gum leaves get too dry they need to get water from somewhere. The recent weather has been very dry and there have been media reports of koalas heading down from the hills in search of water. As we live just below the hills we do occasionally see them but they are not common. If we do happen to see them they are normally up a tree.
You do not mess with koalas. They have claws (for climbing) and can inflict considerable damage. On the whole though they are peaceable creatures.
I think this one was quite young. It was certainly not very big. It just looked at me and then went back to drinking before clambering back on to our low front fence and scampering off - presumably to the gum trees at the end of the street.
Koalas have a very restricted diet. They eat gum leaves - and not just any sort of gum leaves. They restrict themselves to certain types of gum trees. Normally they also get enough liquid from the leaves not to bother with drinking water - but they know when they need more water.
Yesterday the new National Health and Medical Research Council "dietary guidelines" came out. There was the usual advice about lots of vegetables and fruit, whole grains rather than processed, low fat dairy etc. I suspect most people will look at it and think they either do it or "well, that's what they say but really...." and go on eating the way they always eat. 
I really do try to ensure we eat sensibly in this house. We are still eating our way through some shortbread given to us at Christmas. (It comes, two biscuits at a time, in little cellophane packets. It is made from butter and is very rich. A "serving" is two biscuits. We have a half serve each. It is enough.) There is still chocolate left from Christmas - and some Christmas cake. Do not mistake me - we do like those things but we try not to have too much of them.
I consider myself extremely fortunate. The Senior Cat is easy to feed. There are, as I think I have said elsewhere, very few things he does not care for. They do not matter. He likes vegetables and salad, fresh fruit, whole grains and wholemeal bread. He does insist on butter and 'proper' cheese (not low fat) but limits the intake. 
Still, I do not doubt that an earnest dietary expert would find things wrong with our diet. It makes me wonder what they eat themselves?  An organic lettuce leave and a single raw cashew for lunch perhaps?
I think we will go on eating in much the same way as we always eat. The Senior Cat is content and as healthy as can be expected at his age - and that is what matters the most for him. I know I am overweight (although, thankfully, not obese) so perhaps I do need to be more careful and pedal a little further than I do - but I do get some exercise!
But, I looked at the little koala and could not help wondering - how on earth do you stay healthy on a diet of just gum leaves with the occasional side of water? 


Anonymous said...

I wonder they do not get heartily sick of gum leaves!

jeanfromcornwall said...

Koalas have always baffled me by the way they manage to live on such a severely restricted diet - same as pandas.
Wouldn't it be handy if we could find a simple foodstuff that could be all that we need? It would also deprive us of so much pleasure though. . . .

JO said...

I don't remember Blinky Bill ever doing much damage ...

(I have relatives in Oz, and they sent me that when I was little. Loved it!)

catdownunder said...

They baffle me too Jean - strange animals.
Jo I am sure Blinky Bill did no damage at all. I remember him from my childhood - although I don't think I was particularly interested in him.
All the same koala claws can do serious damage. One of the staff at a school my father was head of was helping to ring some koalas (for tracking so they could protect them) one weekend. A koala got rather agitated in the process and the staff member ended up with a great many stitches in one arm and then nearly lost it to the resultant infection.