Animal experts took to social media to warn the public after the death of a koala that might have otherwise survived.
An Australian wildlife shelter has taken to social media to warn the public about the dangers of offering koala bears water from water bottles.
Animal experts say it can do more harm than good. In some cases, it can be fatal.
Koalas usually get their water by eating the mosisture-rich leaves on eucalyptus trees, but much of their habitat has been incinerated by the fires.
"Please do not give water to koalas by pouring water from bottles into their mouths," Animalia Wildlife Shelter in Frankston, Victoria said on Facebook.
"With all the Facebook posts about people caring for wildlife amidst the fire and heat disasters over these past weeks, a silent tragedy is happening.
"Koalas are DYING because people are trying to help but don't understand how a koala actually drinks."
The shelter goes on to say a koala named Arnie survived minor burns from the fire but died after he was offered water from a bottle.
"It can be dangerous to give koalas water poured into their mouth as they are not usually used to drinking, and a volume such as 10-20 [ml] can be 'aspirated', which means the water goes into the lungs instead of the oesophagus," a RSPCA South Australia spokesperson told 7NEWS.com.au in an interview.
"An animal can die from aspirating fluid."
Experts say the best way to help a dehydrated koala is to offer them water in a bowl or your hands, so they can gently lap up water. You can also use a small syringe to evenly and slowly put water into the koala's mouth.
Thumbnail image courtesy: Pexels.