Monday, November 30, 2009

Prey of the Dog: Down Under

Koala BearKangaroos

Even though our dogs are domesticated, many of them have a prey drive that lies within. It's this prey drive that makes them chase, squirrels, rabbits, deer, cats and other animals.

There are two animals that seem to be a target of domesticated dogs in Australia: the kangaroo and koala bear. Both of these wild animals are hugely popular. New of attacks involving these animals have increased quite a bit.


Young KangarooKangaroos are marsupials. Smaller-sized kangaroos are known as Wallabies. The Red Kangaroo is the largest of the species.

The Kangaroo is the national animal of Australia. Their young which are called joeys are carried in their pouch until they are strong enough to live on their own. They eat plants and grass and survive on very lttle water.

Kangaroos are an animal that can't move backward, only forward. In addition to living in Australia, they also can be found in Tasmania and New Guinea. Their population in Australia has dwindled over 50% since 2001. A large number of that is due to humans hunting kangaroos.Still, they have a large population compared to koala bears.

Koala Bears

Koala in TreeKoala bears are beloved in their homeland of Australia and in other parts of the world. They live solely in Australia and are a protected species. They may be called koala bears but are actually mursupials just like kangaroos. They carry their young in their pouch. Their young are called joeys as well.

They eat only leaves from Eucalyptus trees. It is from these trees that they get their water intake. Due to the fact their diet doesn't give them much energy, these animals can sleep up to 22 hours a day. They have thick, dense fur but store little to no fat in their system. Because of this, they have a very weak defense system if they are attacked. An estimated 4,000 koala bears die from attacks each year.

Why Dogs Attack Them

Domestic dogs have been found too attack these animals for various red kangarooreasons. With the increase of development and, much of their habitat has been destroyed to build roads, homes and businesses. Forest fires have been a further detriment. These animals have no choice but to adjust to their new surroundings and that may mean wandering into a person's backyard.

Some dogs see them as intruders violating their territory. They will chase them out but can easily be kicked to death by a kangaroo whose been put on the defense. Kangaroos are docile animals but if they are provoked they will defend themselves. Another method of survival for a kangaroo is leading the dog to water and then holding it under to drown it with its front paws.

In contrast, koalas can be quite aggressive and will defend themselves by biting or using their sharp claws.

Sometimes, dog owners let their dogs roam off leash in recreational parks. One minute their are walking with their master, the next they are off chasing an animal. The consequences of this can be severe because one of them will die.

What Can Be Done?

Koala AsleepThere are steps that dog owners can take to protect their dogs, have peace of mind, and help kangaroos and koala bears have a better chance at survival:

  • Keep an eye on your dog when you let it out in the yard
    Many times you think the coast is clear and miss that Koala who's been hanging out in your tree.

  • Limit your dogs time outside from dusk to dawn. Since both of them are nocturnal animals, you have a greater risk of seeing them. Instead of leaving them in the yard, take them on a walk instead.

  • Use fencing to keep Koalas out.

  • Know what kind of trees you have, if you have any because they are a target for koalas. This list will tell you what trees are koala magnets. Grass in the backyard is appealing to Kangaroos.

  • If your dog is an outdoor dog, have him sleep in an enclosed area. Many dogs love to be close to their owners so they can protect them. If you don't want them in your house, then have them in your garage or basement

Learn More!
Here are some websites where you can learn more about these magnificent animals:
Animals Australia
Australia Koala Foundation
Australia's National Parks
Kangaroo Protection Coalition
Other Wild Animal Posts
Oh No! My Dog Got Skunked!

Have any of you seen these animals up close? Have you ever witnessed an attack? What are your thoughts on this subject?

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