Are Koalas Dangerous? Here’s When, How, and Why. a Guide


Koalas have always been known for their extreme cuteness, so much so that it might even seem strange to ask the question are Koalas dangerous! But it’s actually a fair question and one that I’m going to answer here, as well as when, how, why, in what ways, and more

Koalas attack only when provoked or when they become aggressive. They become aggressive through human invasion and other potential threats to themselves or to their young. Koalas are also dangerous through infectious Chlamydia disease. Koalas are also known to fight with each other.

It’s so sweet to watch a koala on a tree branch lazily eating eucalyptus leaves.

With such cuteness in its way of behaving, it’s quite impossible to think that this animal can be dangerous in any way. But we have to remember that it is still a wild animal after all.

There are many ideas put forward on what motivates Koalas to become aggressive and potentially dangerous, some largely based on different people’s experiences.

How are koalas dangerous?

Many animals are viewed as dangerous only through how they can be aggressive or based on the potential for an attack.

However, koalas are dangerous not only in terms of potential attacks but also through the potential diseases they can carry, and spread.

The most common forms of danger are through actual attacks. Several incidents show koalas can attack quite aggressively for the size and despite their demeanor.

However, many of these dangers – in terms of attacks – tend to originate from a few external factors.

Koala are calm most of the time

I should point out that koalas remain in a calm and relaxed state most of the time. It requires a significant change in behavior or circumstance to trigger aggressive behavior and lead to a potential attack.

Otherwise, in the vast majority of Koala encounters, they will remain very calm “in their zone” just munching on leaves.

They are so calm in fact, that you could almost call them simply lazy, as they spend most of their time sleeping and eating.

They spend around 20-22 hours sleeping on the branches of trees. With such a busy life they rarely have time for thinking about attacking anything except their next meal!

But there are plenty of logical reasons why koalas turn aggressive.

So with the scene set, let’s discuss if and why koalas are aggressive – and what triggers aggression in them.

koala bear
koala bear

Are Koalas aggressive

Let’s run through the main circumstances in which Koalas can become aggressive.

Threats to their young

One of the main reasons why koalas become aggressive is when they feel a potential threat to their offspring.

This instance is, of course, very common among many animals and the reason many would turn aggressive.

When koalas feel a human is approaching their young for example, perhaps showing an aggressive nature – or even just trying to touch them, they may turn aggressive and ready themselves for an attack.

Invasion of territory

Koalas are highly territorial animals. So invading these territories of koalas can turn them aggressive easily as they feel threatened.

So one reason Koalas turn aggressive is when they feel humans – or any other animal is invading their established territory or habitat.

Threats to thier own safety

Aside from their young, the other common reason why koalas turn aggressive is much the same as any other animal, and that’s when they feel threatened by humans. Or if they feel or sense a human is coming to attack them.

koala will defend their young
koala will defend their young

Why humans might be aggressive to Koalas

Adding to the previous point above, during the 20th century, koalas were commonly hunted by Europeans …mainly for their soft and thick fur.

These potential threats by hunters are also one reason why koalas may turn aggressive.

It’s natural then that Koalas grew a tendency to be aggressive towards humans.

More often than not, the reasons why koalas turn aggressive is due to some form of human invasion or initiation.

Especially when humans try to invade the daily lives of these cute little animals.

And after all this aggression is not unnecessary – but serves only to protect themselves, their young ones, or their territories.

So in their daily schedule of snacking and sleeping, turning aggressive is only possible through external factors that trigger aggression.

When gauging the degree or level of aggression, many consider that Koalas have what’s termed as “mild aggression” or violence when compared to many other animals.

With that being said, we shouldn’t forget that Koalas can not only be aggressive towards humans but also other animals.

So it’s must be a good point to know how koalas can be dangerous in terms of attacks and what they do.

How Koalas attack

Koalas attack mainly using two parts of their body, it’s the teeth and the claws. They use the teeth and the claws to pierce the skin of the victim in an outright act of aggression. Let get a little deeper into these two parts.

Koalas’ teeth

Koalas use their sharp front teeth to bite down on their food – eucalyptus leaves. But their teeth are strong enough to pierce the soft skin of humans harshly.

And with these teeth, the jaws attached to the teeth are powerful enough and strong enough to cause some damage.

The stronger jaws allow the teeth to bite or snap vigorously and will almost always cause a human to bleed.

Koalas claws

Koalas have sharp and strong claws that are specially designed to climb trees.

The nails on their claws are so sharp and strong that it leaves marks on the trees when a koala climbs over it.

This sharpness again helps in causing victims to bleed and leave marks when attacking humans and even other animals. 

The danger of Koala Chlamydia

Koalas can also be dangerous in terms of the infectious diseases they can transmit.

In Australia alone, around 50% of Koalas suffer from contagious Chlamydia diseases inherited from other Koalas.

Around some parts of Australia, the percentage of koalas infected from this disease reaches 90%.

This disease can spread to humans by touch, or becoming exposed to or close to koala urine.

Although this can be cured with antibiotics, if this disease spreads on a large human scale it may become incurable. An increasing spread of Chlamydia can result in some deaths for those untreated. 

This disease has already been shown to spread to animals such as guinea pigs, crocodiles, and sheep.

And this can even spread to animals who have low immunity. So this danger from koalas in terms of an infectious disease is not just to the human population but also the animal kingdom.

Past incidents of Koala attacks

But how koalas behave or attack when they turn aggressive can be unpredictable.

One heavily reported incident of Koalas turning aggressive and attacking is that of Mary Anne Forster of South Australia.

Forster faced an aggressive koala when trying to protect her two dogs. The Koala – out of aggression – inflicted a vicious bite into Forster’s legs.

The bite was so harsh that the koala teeth sank into the leg and the koala would not allow Forster to escape.

Forster had to reach into the mouth of the koala and separate its jaws apart with her hands in order to free her leg from the grip.

This is a sobering reminder of just how aggressive, and strong a Koala can be when they are aggressive.

To close

I hope this has provided a good overview of Koalas and how they can indeed show aggressive tendencies. In any event, do not attempt to approach a Koala without professional guidance.

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