Can You Own A Pet Koala?

Can you own a koala and do they actually make good pets? The answer to both questions is a big fat NO! Koalas have very special needs and are hard to care for. For all this work you wouldn’t get that much reward as these animals are quite slothful. Another important aspect is that it is banned to keep a koala as a pet. 

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Koala on a limb

I know koalas are cute and cuddly and you want to learn more about what it would be like to keep one as a pet. But before we go into the details of this topic I must say something about the word “bear”.

Koalas are often called koala bears and many people actually think that they are bears. However, they are marsupials and therefore related to kangaroos, wombats, and quokkas.

Is It Legal To Own A Pet Koala?

No, you can’t legally own a koala bear. While the US and Canada as well as other countries have laws that regulate the ownership of exotic pets, Australia even bans the whole export.

So there is no way you could get one. Of course, there are some exceptions and the Australian government allows the transport of koalas for some reasons.

If you want to have one in your zoo or need an animal for breeding chances are high that you get a permit. But you definitely need to meet all the requirements.

However, there are a lot of other things that would make owning a pet koala no fun.

Pet Koalas Can Be Mean

Koalas are not especially aggressive towards humans. But even if they are mostly friendly some individuals can be mean.

Like every other animal, koalas can become aggressive when they feel threatened. Bites or scratches can be painful and you should stay at a safe distance. Touching wild animals is almost never a good idea and playing can turn into a situation you don’t want to be into if you make the wrong moves.

Watch the video below to see a compilation of the cutest koalas.

Koalas Aren’t Domesticated

Domestication is a thing that doesn’t apply to koalas. I know some people mix the terms tamed and domesticated up. But there is a huge difference.

Of course, koalas can be tamed, especially if they were raised by humans from a young age. But domestication means that genetics are changed through selective breeding. This process takes many generations and can’t be done in a few months.

When domestication didn’t take place, we have to speak of wild animals. This brings a lot of downsides when you want to keep a koala as a pet. It won’t adjust itself to your normal life but will determine it.

A dog or a cat is already a lot of work but all the hours you have to put into these species are nothing compared to the effort needed to care for an exotic pet of this size.

They Can Spread Chlamydia

Koalas have a problem with chlamydia and they can eventually spread it. Over 85 % of koalas are infected. Infertility and even death are the consequences.

Today chlamydia is the number one threat to the species together with habitat loss. Researchers are already working on vaccinating koalas against the disease. So there is some hope that the situation will get better or at least not worse in the coming years.

They Sleep All Day (And Night)

Lazy koala sleeping on a tree

If you decide on a pet, I bet you want one that you can spend time and interact with. The thing with koalas is that they sleep long times and don’t care if it’s night or day.

Due to their diet, they have to manage their energy very well. Even if they are mainly nocturnal, they want to take a nap at night too. The playtime you would have with your pet would be very limited if you opt for a koala.

Koala Bears Only Feed On Eucalyptus

Koalas feed solely on eucalyptus and they need between 1 and 2 lbs a day. It would definitely be a huge task to come up with that amount.

There is no substitute that would be a good fit and if you live in a country where eucalyptus doesn’t grow naturally you would have a problem.

Processed koala food doesn’t exist and will never be.

Koalas Are Endangered

Besides all the other negative aspects of owning a pet koala, there is the ethical view too. Koalas are endangered and experts estimate that under 60000 are left in the wild.

Habitat loss, bushfires, and chlamydia are the main threats they face. Taking one from its natural environment to keep it for your own amusement wouldn’t be a heroic act.

There Are No Pet Koala Bears For Sale

Koala mother with baby

As you can imagine, there are no koala bears for sale. No adults and no babies. Breeders don’t exist, at least not those that would sell to private persons.

The only possibility would be to buy one from the black market. But as the ownership of pet koalas is illegal you would have to keep it a secret. No one should know about your new pet and that would really be a problem in the long term.

Additionally, the price you would have to pay is very high. 

Adopt A Koala Instead

If you still love koalas and want to do something to support the species you can choose to adopt one. The Australian Koala Foundation offers a program where you can choose one individual and donate a small amount for its care.

This would be the best option if you want your “own” little koala bear but to interact in a responsible way.