The effect of tooth wear on the feeding behaviour of free-ranging koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus, Goldfuss)


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The free-ranging feeding behaviours of five adult koalas Phascolarctos cinereus with varying degrees of tooth wear were investigated using acoustically sensitive radio telemetry. An increase in tooth wear was found to be associated with a significant increase in the average amount of time spent feeding, average number of leaves consumed and the average number of daily chews. This suggests that koalas compensate for tooth wear by increasing food intake. Furthermore, there was a significant increase in the average number of chews per leaf and average chew rate, suggesting a greater investment in processing each leaf.