Not just to look adorable apparently.
It’s an image as intrinsically Australian as the beach and barbecues.
Researchers at Melbourne University used radio collars to track the movements of the critters and thermal imaging to measure the trunk temperature of the trees they perch on.
During the Australian summer, the koalas sat lower in the trees where it was cooler and were more likely to stretch out and hug the tree.
By wrapping themselves around the cooler part of the tree trunks, koalas stop themselves from overheating.
It is thought this allowed them to transfer heat away from their body, without the danger of dehydration that comes with panting.
Researcher Natalie Briscoe said hugging trees help koalas stay cool.
Access to these trees can save about half the water a koala would need to keep cool on a hot day.”
Co-researcher Andrew Krockenberger said heat can do serious damage to koalas.
About a quarter of koalas in one population died during a heat wave in 2009, so understanding the types of factors that can make some populations more resilient is important.”
The team added that other tree-loving animals, including monkeys and leopards, are likely to use a similar strategy.
h/t: Daily Mail