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Phascolarctos cinereus


This koala looked like it was waving it's foot at me, but I had to go online to make sure it was actually a foot I was looking at. Sure enough, it was, and I learned a bit more about koala physiology in the process. These bizarre animals never cease to amaze me, but there were two things I noticed with this spotting that puzzled me: there appeared to be two claws on one toe (photo #5), and two thumbs on one paw (photo #6). Here's a good explanation....... "The Koala’s paws are specially adapted for gripping and climbing. Rough pads on the palms and soles help it to grip tree trunks and branches, and both front and hind paws have long sharp claws. Each paw has five digits; on the front paw, two digits are opposed to the other three--rather like a human's thumb--so they are both able to be moved in opposition to the other three. This allows the Koala to grip more securely. Distinctive parallel Koala scratch marks on tree trunks are due to this particular characteristic. On the hind paw, there is no claw on the biggest digit, which is opposable to the others for gripping. The second and third digits are fused together to form a double-clawed digit which is used for grooming purposes, such as for removing ticks." - from the Australian Koala Foundation website.


Just on the outskirts of Toohey Forest, a remnant eucalyptus woodland reserve of approximately 655 hectares. The forest is situated within an urban area on the south side of Brisbane. This koala was resting in a box species of eucalypt (?), although I doubt it was a food tree; more likely a comfortable shade tree for resting. Here's a recent spotting from within the forest itself, and in the note section is information about food tree species these local koalas prefer - This was my first koala spotting in the area only two weeks prior.


It's funny the things that appear when they're least expected. I spotted this koala when I was at work. I was getting out of the car and just happened to look up, and this koala just happened to be looking straight back at me. There have been periods when I have looked for days in various bushland areas for koalas, to no avail, and then this one appears out of the blue. Unfortunately, this koala has roamed from the safety of the forest, and to reach this location it has had to cross one of the busiest arterial roads in the area. I've seen three (possibly four) dead koalas around the forest perimeter in the past couple of years. Koala exclusion fencing is currently being installed around the forest to minimise koala deaths in various hot-spot areas.

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41 Comments (1–25)

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 3 years ago

Cheers, Rob. This particular fellow is reasonably safe from fires, but he does have a perilous road to contend with. This has been the most horrific fire season, and it's not over yet. I'm sure we'll be counting the environmental cost of this for decades :(

triggsturner 3 years ago

Hi Neil. Fantastic spotting and brilliant back up info. I so feel for you guys in this terrible, terrible season. I guess counting the cost environmentally once the fires are finished will be harrowing. I just hope your little guy makes it. Thank you so much for sharing this. Rob

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 3 years ago

Many thanks, Leuba. A bit of passion and lots of luck. Spotting koalas in the city definitely is not an everyday occurrence :)

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 3 years ago

Congratulations Neil - both for the spotting & your passion !

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 3 years ago

Thanks, Sarah. Much appreciated.

SarahWhitt 3 years ago

WAY TO GO, Neil!!!
Wonderful spotting!!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 3 years ago

Thank you, Gaia80 and ornithoptera80. It was a surprise spotting, that's for sure.

Ornithoptera80 3 years ago

congrats, and nice spotting

Gaia80 3 years ago

Nice, congratulations Neil :D

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 3 years ago

Thanks, Antonio and Tukup. Some Amazonian rain would be most welcomed here. It'll take a lot of rain to put these fires out.

Great spotting Neil,congrats on the well deserved SOTW and thanks for sharing

Tukup 3 years ago

Hi Neil. Congratulations on the SOTW. Well done. Praying for those affected by the fires. Wish I could send some of the rain we have here in the Amazon.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 3 years ago

I did see the koalas in the car, Mark. There have been so many amazing images of all sorts of wild animals finding refuge in the strangest of places. It's so heartwarming to know that so many people do care... about our wildlife, the environment, one another. Maybe that's what will propel this country towards the positive changes we need to make in this country, to secure a decent and healthy future. We have that obligation to put our political leaders on notice that they must change their priorities and put the environment first... at all cost!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 3 years ago

Thank you very much for this SOTW. I am truly honoured. And thank you all for the kind words of support and congratulations. I am very grateful for my friends here on Project Noah. I was very lucky to spot this koala. It was a happy moment in what is otherwise a very sad and stressful time in this country.

SukanyaDatta 3 years ago

Congratulations, Neil.

Ashutosh Dudhatra
Ashutosh Dudhatra 3 years ago

I hope all of the wildlife populations there recover,very sad to see such a beautiful and biodiverse land burning.Great spotting and Congratulations Neil!

Jae 3 years ago

Congrats, Neil!

Sergio Monteiro
Sergio Monteiro 3 years ago

Congratulations, Neil. I REALLY hope that koalas can finally get all the attention they deserve, and that their population can grow up again. Well done my friend.

Brian38 3 years ago

Congratulations Neil for a well deserved SOTW!!

Muckpuk 3 years ago

Congratulations Neil with the SOTW

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 3 years ago

Hey congrats Neil. Well deserved.
New images of koalas struggling with the fires are still flooding our media. Did you see the story of the half dozen koalas in the car? A laugh in less sobering times. At least they were kept safe for a while.
Great spotting - thanks.

MichaelS 3 years ago

Hi Neil, Your spotting helps bring attention to an urgent ecological crisis for people and wildlife across Australia from bushfires. Your wonderfully detailed educational notes on the unique physiology of Koalas impressed the Rangers and you have earned Spotting of the Week.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 3 years ago

Thanks, Leuba. The exclusion fence should make a big difference. There's also a foot/bike tunnel under the freeway which the koalas can also use, although the oldies are stubborn. The youngies might catch on. I have a better idea where to look these days and how to read the conditions. Binoculars also help :)

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 3 years ago

Very interesting information Neil. Thanks. In all my 30 years here I've only seen one Koala in the wild and he was quite far away and high up on the tree. Still waiting ! That's good news about the exclusion fencing.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 3 years ago

Thanks, Tukup and Sergio. It's always a buzz to spot wild koalas, but they can also be very elusive! About 1.5 hrs outside of Brisbane is one of my favourite hiking areas, and it's heavily wooded and known koala habitat. I've done a dozen hikes in that area over the past few years and have not spotted one... and believe me, I have looked! So to see this fellow just casually watching me while I'm at work gave me a chuckle. So did the waving foot :D

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Spotted on Dec 4, 2019
Submitted on Dec 13, 2019

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