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Alicia Alexander Adelaide Hills, South Australia

  • Extreme Weather
  • Wildlife & Environment

A very thirsty koala

A summer of extreme heat in the Adelaide Hills sends one parched koala on a desperate search for water.

Photo: Alicia Alexander

Australia recorded its hottest month on record in January 2013 with Adelaide recording 45 °C for only the fourth time in its history (BOM report here ). Climate change predictions are that extreme events like heatwaves are going to become more frequent and more severe (Climate Commission). In the Adelaide Hills there were extraordinary scenes as the heat forced koalas down out of trees in a desperate search for water. When one thirsty juvenile appeared at Alicia and Chris Alexander’s Adelaide home they made sure he got some water. The youngster seemed to really appreciate their help with the whole event captured on video and posted on YouTube.

Alicia takes up the story.

We live in the Adelaide Hills so koala spotting in the summer is not hard to do. But this year the koalas have literally been knocking on people’s windows searching for water. We had quite a few consecutive hot days and a really dry summer. The leaves were dry and a lot of the trees were dying around our area as well. So the poor little koalas were looking for any water source they could get.

For a few days we had seen koalas drinking out of a leaking water main up the road. Neighbours with ponds were saying koalas were trying to find a way into their back yards. Then on New Year’s Day this little guy popped his head over our back fence after we turned the sprinklers on. He was sort of looking toward the sprinkler and I said ‘he’s probably really thirsty; maybe we should give him some water’. So Chris offered the little koala a bowl of water and he started drinking as if to say ‘thanks very much, great!’ I got my phone out and started to take footage.

 

 

Chris was holding the bowl and we thought it might just be for a few minutes but he just kept on drinking and drinking and poor Chris’s arm was getting quite tired by the 20 minute mark. So that’s when he got me to hold the bowl for a little bit and he got an ice cream container and some gaffer tape and rigged up a little makeshift drinking fountain so we didn’t have to hold it. He drank solidly for a good half an hour.

For that koala to be so open to being close to us humans was pretty amazing. There was a beautiful moment when Chris even rubbed noses with the little guy. It’s definitely unusual to be able to touch a koala or have it accept water. He literally lapped it up like a cat or dog would. I really believe we did save this little koala’s life. I’ve never seen a koala drink like that - he was obviously quite stressed. I hope people get something out of the videos I posted. Whether it’s the cute factor or how seriously things are changing.