Australian Native Animals

We are blessed with some interesting Australian native animals. As part of your trip, you should try to seek out as many of these animals as you can – preferably in their natural environment, out in the wild.

The Koala and Kangaroo are the most famous. Click here for more information on Australian Kangaroos and Koala Bears.

Below are the best of the other interesting Australian native Animals worth looking out for.

The Emu

This animal features on the Australian coat of arms as it is a symbol of progression. The Emu, like the Kangaroo that stands next to it, can only go forwards.

Did you know?

The Emu is Australia’s largest bird and one of the more important of the Australian Native Animals. It’s name comes from the Portuguese word Ema, meaning large bird

They can run at speeds of 50km/h and a stride can be as long as 3m.

They eat grasses, leaves and fruit but vary their diet by season depending on what food is available.

They can’t fly but get out of trouble by running very fast.

Where to See Emus

Emus are hardy birds so can survive even the harshest of Australia’s climates. You could see one in the dry centre of Australia or in the tropical woodlands in the north



Echidnas

Echidnas along with Platypus are the only egg laying mammals making them one of the more unique Australian native animals. They are recognisable by their long spikes all over their body.

Did you know

Echidnas vary in colour depending on the region. They are light brown in the north and get darker and furrier the further south you go

Their snout is between 7 and 8cm long and is stiff to allow it to break up logs and termite mounds

Echidnas mainly live off termites which is why they are sometimes known as the spiky ant eater.

They vary in size between 35-53cm in length and the males can weigh up to 6kg.

Dogs, Eagles and Dingoes are the key predators and when under attack the Echidnas will either bury itself into the ground or roll into a ball and wedge itself between rocks.

In southern Australia the Echidnas stop eating in the colder months then eat lots in Spring.

Echidnas can live up to 16 years but the average is about 10 years.

Where to see Echidnas

They are located throughout Australia but are one of the more solitary of the Australian native animals. Keep your eye out for them when bush walking. They like to shelter against rocks when it is raining or windy.



The Possum

There are nearly 70 different species of possum in Australia and are most commonly found in urban areas. They have become pests given that they are usually found routing in the garbage or climbing on roofs or nearby trees.

They are generally about the size of a cat and have a long tail and look a little like a cross between a rat and a Koala. One of the more interesting native Australian animals as opinion is divided on whether these are cute or a real pain.

Did you know

They can grow up to 120cm in length

They tend to hide in hollows in trees during the day and then forage for food during the night.

They prefer to eat plants and fruits but have been known to eat meat if it is on offer.

Even though possums are pests for many urban households, they cannot be baited. Instead households are advised to build them a nest away from the property or ward them off with garlic!

Possum skin cloaks were important to the aboriginals as clan heirlooms.

The possum can do serious damage to trees given it likes to eat the new leafy growth of trees. This makes it harder for the trees to grow

It can see well in the dark and has a good sense of smell that it uses to find food.

Where to see Possums

You’ll most likely see one after dark in urban areas. Look in trees or listen out for them on your roof or rummaging through your garbage.



Looking for a souvenir of these cute creatures? Why not grab yourself a poster for only $11.95.

Australian Native Animal poster



Wallabies

These are part of the Kangaroo family and are basically small Kangaroos. They are one of the more widespread of the Australian Native Animals and you are sure to see them on your visit to Australia.

Generally Kangaroos are much larger. If you see a small kangaroo, it is more than likely a wallaby.

For more information on macropods, click here for more details on Australian Kangaroos.



The Kookaburra

Some of you may remember singing the song in a round when you were young about this famous Australian native animals.

“Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree, merry merry king of the bushes he, love kookaburra, love kookaburra, gay your life must be” ?!!

Kookaburras are part of the Kingfisher bird family and make a distinct noise. Some say it sounds like a hyena or someone laughing.

Did you know?

They prefer to live in open forests and woodlands but can be found in residential areas if there is running water. There are certainly a few round the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney that like to wake me up most mornings.

They tend to eat small lizards and insects, mice and raw meat.

Their feathers are usually brown and white but there are some that have beautiful blue feathers e.g. the Spangled Kookaburra.

The Kookaburra was used as an emblem for the 2000 Olympic Games held in Sydney along with the Echidna and the Platypus

Where to See them

You will probably here one before you see one as they tend to be high up in the trees. They are throughout Australia and you are likely to come across one on your travels.



The Platypus

The platypus is a semi aquatic mammal that is only found in Eastern Australia and parts of Tasmania. It’s a bit like a cross between a duck, otter and beaver.

It is one of the more unique Australian native animals as it is the sole living representative of its family. A few other related species of the platypus have been found only in fossils

It is one of only five that lays eggs (the other one of the Australian native animals is the Echidna)

Did you know

The platypus is venomous and can cause significant pain to humans. The male has a spurn on its foot that releases venom.

It likes to eat fresh water shrimps and yabbies

It is the animal emblem of the state of New South Wales

It has been used as a symbol and icon of Australia in many events

It is featured on the 20 cent coin

The platypus can live to the age of 17.

Their main predators are snakes, owls and eagles.

Where to see them

You can try to see them on Kangaroo Island as there is a special platypus reserve. You will have to be lucky to see one though.



The Wombat

The Wombat is a very shot legged Australian native animal of about 1m in length. It’s closest relative is the Koala and it has similar fur to the Koala

It also has a pouch where it keeps its young, making it part of the marsupial family.

Did you know

They tend to live in mountainous areas or heathland in south eastern Australia or Tasmania.

They like to burrow into the ground and have sharp claws specifically to help them dig their burrows

They have a backward facing pouch that enables their young not to get covered in dirt when they are digging. A rather intriguing invention making them one of the more ingenious of the Australian native animals

The young live in the pouch for about 6 to 7 months and after that they spend time in and out of the pouch until they are about 15 months old.

Like the Koala, the Wombat has a very slow metabolism so moves very slowly and sleeps lots.

It takes them 14 hours to digest their food.

They eat grasses, herbs barks and roots.

It can reach speeds of up to 40km/h though when it needs to get itself out of trouble.

Dingos and Tasmanian devils are their biggest predators

Where to see a Wombat

Do the Dove Lake Walk at Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. You might be lucky and see a Wombat there.

If not head to Australia Zoo just outside Brisbane.



The Dingo

The dingo looks like a dog and is a dog with one big difference. They have reverted back to a wild animal after thousands of years living independent from humans.

This means that they may look all cute and cuddly, but actually they can be unpredictable and ferocious.

There have been stories of dogs carrying off small children (Fraser Island) but providing that you keep your distance and don’t leave lots of rubbish around for them to rummage through you should not have any problems.

Did you know?

Whilst Dingos can and do bark, it is much less often than a domestic dog. It is generally used as a warning.

They like to eat meat – red kangaroo, wombats, possums, wallabies and rats

They belong to their own pack but can be seen wandering on their own.

In warmer climates like other Australian Native Animals, they are more nocturnal, being particularly active at dusk. In cooler climates they are more active in the day.

Dingos live between 5 and 10 years in the wild but can live up to 15 years when kept in captivity.

The aboriginal customs and beliefs place the dog and the dingo as one of the most spiritual and important of the Australian native animals.

Where to see a Dingo

The dingo is most commonly found in the central areas of Australia.

The best place to see them however is on Fraser Island in Queensland.

They are usually in most zoos including Australia Zoo near Brisbane and Taronga Zoo in Sydney.



Tasmanian Devil

The Tasmanian devil looks like a cross between a pig and a dog and is one of the funniest looking Australian native animals.

It is about the same size of a dog but much stockier. It has a black coat and a good set of teeth including fangs.

You will only see the Tasmanian Devil in (wait for it…) Tasmania!

Did you know

The Tasmanian devil makes a terribly loud screeching noise.

It is the only surviving carnivorous marsupial (animals that have a pouch to bring up their young)

Tasmanian devils have been known to eat small kangaroos. They generally go for wombats, snakes, insects and other reptiles.

The Tasmanian devil stores fat in its tail. So if you see a devil with a thin tale, you’ll know it’s not too well.

An average length of 65cm and the males weigh about 8kg.

They tend to live 6 years in the wild but live longer in captivity.

It is the symbol of the Tasmanian National Parks

The biggest threat to these devils is a face skin cancer called devil facial tumour disease. The disease causes death after 12 months. It is so widespread that these animals have become a protected species.

Where to see Tasmanian Devils

Devils tend to be nocturnal so are difficult to see in the wild. Most of the wildlife parks in Tasmania have devils.

There is a Tasmanian Devil conservation park on the way to Port Arthur which is not too far from Hobart.

Another good park is on the way to Cradle Mountain and is called Trowoona.



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