Australia is a land with the world’s most unique flora and fauna. While koalas and kangaroos are among the well-known species, several other native animals rule the Australian earth. Let’s look into a few of the native Australian animals and weird fun and knowledgeable facts about them:
Native Australian Animals – marsupials
Koalas dwell on trees and belong to the marsupial mammal species with large black noses and furry ears. These animals are harmless unless provoked when they can scratch or bite. They grow up to 70-90 cm or 27-35 inch length and weigh 4-15 kg or 9-33 lbs. They have grey-brown fur with white fur on the chest, inner arms, ears, and bottom. However, the colour may be lighter in warmer regions like Queensland.
Koalas dwell in eucalyptus trees in Australia’s tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate forests, woodlands and eastern seaboard. The general name is Koala, pronounced as co-aa-laa. However, scientifically, they are called Phascolarctos cinereus. Their diet includes 400 grams of eucalyptus and some other leaves daily. The lifespan varies from 10 to 18 years with females living longer than men. Some other facts about this cuddly-looking creature include:
- A tiny and smooth brain due to the harsh environment, low-nutrition food, and few predators
- Sleeps around 18 to 20 hours a day to save energy
- Slow and awkward walk at 30 kps/ 18 mph.
A shy native Australian animal, Wombat is a herbivorous marsupial rarely seen in the wild. With relatively large brains, they are the smartest of marsupials. Although they walk slowly, they can gallop up to 40 kph if they want to with the physical appearance of 71-119cm in length, 36 cm in height, and about 35kgs weight. Their thick, soft fur varies from light brown to black in colour.
Wombats are of two kinds: common (bare-nosed) and hairy-nosed. The latter’s divided into northern and southern hairy-nosed wombats. Common wombats can be found in temperate forests and grasslands of eastern Australia. Northern hairy-nosed wombats are only residing in a small area of east-central Queensland. On the other hand, Southern hairy-nosed wombat only lives in a few areas of Southern Australia.
The scientific names of the kinds of wombats include Common wombatus (Vombatus Ursinus), Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii), and Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons). On the diet of native grasses, tree bark, and roots as nocturnal grazing herbivores, they live for about 15 years. Other interesting must-know facts about them involve:
- The only animal to have a cube-shaped poop is called a scat.
- They use their “scat” as a scent outside their burrow to remember their home in the dark and indicate to others what kind of wombat is living here.
- Wombats have weak eyesight, extremely low metabolic rates, excellent smell sensors, and they don’t sweat.
The list of native Australian animals widens with the mention of the Tasmanian Devil, aka a muscular marsupial the size of a small dog. Its scary general name (Started from Beelzebub (a biblical reference for the devil) turned to Native Devil and finally the Tasmanian Devil) comes from the eerie growls, screams, foul odour, bad temper, and aggressive behaviour. However, this animal is endangered today and near extinction. Tasmanian Devil Facile Tumour Disease is a contagious infection killing them.
The Sarcophilus Harrisi (scientific name) animal grows to 60 cm in length, is 30 cm tall at shoulders, and weighs 12 kg. It has black fur, a prominent white streak on its chest, and often white markings on the rump. The forest and woodlands of Tasmania, off the southern coast of Australia, are its residence. It eats the bodies of dead animals, including wombats, small mammals, cattle, sheep, and chickens to live a life of up to 6 years. This fact makes them the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial.
Kangaroos are the most popular native Australian animals with two large hind legs and long, thick tails. Their hopping speed is around 70 km/ h or 45 m/ ph, owing to their 2.5m (8ft) size and 90kg (198lbs) weight. Their colour ranges from orange-brown to grey to dark brown. Kangaroo (Macropodidae) lives in temperate to hot climates throughout Australia.
These species walk on five legs (considering the tail as a leg). Female kangaroos have three vaginas and two uteruses. And the common misconception about them punching and boxing like humans is untrue. They are herbivorous and usually feed on grass, shrubs, etc to live up to 22- 25 years. You can see wild kangaroos in Sydney by driving around 20 to 30 mins on your next visit.
Dingos are lean, taut, and agile native Australian animals seeming to be wild dogs. They are ferocious and known to have attacked humans, especially children. They are said to be brought by Asian seafarers to Australia around 5000 years ago. However, despite their appearance, it is not advisable to keep them as pets, and the law varies in states for this.
Dingos or dingo dogs (Canis lupus dingo) reside in woodland and grassland areas. Their physical appearance is half a meter tall and up to 25 kgs weight. Its Colour varies with the environment. For instance,
- Desert dogs= red/ yellow coat
- Forest = dark fur with tan markings
- Alpine regions= white
- It can eat anything from kangaroos, wallabies, and possums to insects and fruit. Their life in the wild is about 10 years, whereas it’s 13 years in captivity.
Pademelons are little, furry, and hopping native Australian animals, similar in appearance to kangaroos and wallabies. This solitary and nocturnal marsupial has a compact body. They weigh 3.5-12kg (7.7-26lbs) and have a length of 3.3 to almost 8 feet. Pademelon or Thylogale (scientific name) has soft dark brown to grey-brown fur on the back and reddish brown or light brown fur on the stomach. They reside in dense rainforests and shrublands in the coastal regions of Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania. Some facts and their diet information are as follows:
- Male pademelons are twice as large as female ones.
- Both males and females have multiple mates as they are polyamorous.
- Their harmlessness and curiosity make them come up to humans for a picture and slowly hop away.
- They are herbivores and consume plants, grass, herbs, nocturnal flowers, etc.
- Pademelons live for 5-6 years.
Tammar wallabies belong to the marsupials family of macropods (large feet). They are 45 cm tall, 52- 68 cm in length, and 7-9 kg weighing species, living on the Western and South Australian coasts in dense vegetation regions. These creatures live on herbivorous diets consisting mainly of grass. Also, Tammar Wallabies have a lifespan of 10- 14 years.’
The colour scheme they have is grey to yellow bellies and red legs. The scientific name of a Tammar Wallaby is Notamacropus eugenii. The major threat to these animals lies in the form of habitat destruction and feral predators. These native Australian animals are the smallest of wallabies, and their notable adaptations include conserving energy while hopping, drinking seawater, and colour vision.
The happiest animal on Earth belongs to the Rottnest Island and Bald Island off the coast of Western Australia in moist conditions with dense scrubland and is named Quokka. These cat-sized marsupials are short-tailed scrub wallabies and have the cutest smile. They have greyish-brown fur and a lighter brown underside and are mere 2.5- 5 kilos and 40-45 cm in length.
The scientific name of Quokkas is Setonix brachyurus. These creatures are browsing herbivores eating shrubs, grasses, and succulents and live for up to 10 years. Some facts about these species include:
- Humans can take a selfie with Quokkas if they follow the rules.
- Their smile is merely the shape of their mouth.
- Although friendly, they can bite or scratch if frightened.
Also known as the spotted-tail quoll or spotted quoll, Tiger Quoll is a native Australian marsupial. You can find these native Australian animals in rainforests, dry and wet eucalypt forests and woodlands in Eastern Australian states like Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania. They are reddish brown to dark brown in colour, and physical measurements include:
- Weight 1.8 – 7 kg
- Length 69- 113 cm
Dasyurus maculatus is the scientific name for these species. They are usually silent but communicate with specific calls. They are polygynous, meaning the male mates with multiple females. They live up to 2- 5 years by taking carnivores’ diet of small mammals, reptiles, birds, etc.
Also known as the fluffy glider, yellow-bellied gliders are the largest gliding possums in Australia. They are large, active, social, and vocal, coming from Eastern Australia from northern Queensland down to Victoria in open foothill forests, woodland, and wet eucalypt forests. With a maximum life of 10 years, these active, arboreal, and nocturnal gliders can glide up to 114 metres.
These native Australian animals have the following physical characteristics:
- 27 – 30 cm length
- 435- 710 gm weight
- Grey-brown fur on the back
- Off-white to orange or yellow belly
- Petaurus Australis (the scientific name of the yellow-bellied glider) eats nectar, pollen, eucalypt sap, insects, grubs, arachnids, and small vertebrates.
Native birds of Australia
The yellow and black plumage, black- head, neck, upper breasts, throat, beak, pale yellow- lower breasts, bright yellow- flight and tail feathers make regent honey-eaters the most handsome bird. These mere 35 -50 gms weighing and 20- 24 cm long birds are today on the list of critically endangered species. They are now confined to Victoria and New South Wales in eucalypt forests and woodlands.
Regent honey-eaters (Anthochaera Phrygia) have a beautiful, quiet, metallic, and flute-like ringing call. They are omnivores- feeding on nectar and plant sugars and insects like spiders, native and cultivated fruits, etc. Their lifespan is around 10 years.
These birds are also called black-billed spoonbill, and they can feed faster than their yellow spoonbill counterparts. They are 80 cm or 31 inches tall, 74–81 cm (29–32 in) in length, and weigh1.4–2.07 kg (3.1–4.6 lb). The Royal Spoonbill (Platalea Regia) is white with a black spoon-shaped bill, thus the name.
They live in eastern and northern mainland Australia in shallow freshwater and saltwater wetlands, intertidal mud flats and wet grasslands and are carnivorous beings feeding on fish, shrimp, crustaceans, etc. Their lifespan is around 15 years. It has a shorter and broader bill with more touch receptors. These native Australian animals are evaluated as at least risk by IUCN.
Rufous owls (Ninox Rufa) belong to the Strigidae family of typical owls. Also known as Rufous Boobook, these birds are 700 to 1,700 g (25 to 60 oz) and 6–57 cm (18–22 in) in length. Their forehead, neck, back, and upper wings are usually a dark reddish-brown with light brown barring. The face is dark brown, and the neck, breast and underparts are rufous with thin cream bars. They have a light brown underside of the wings with thick cream bars, and a light grey hooked bill with black bristles at its base.
These birds are available in abundance in the rainforests and woodland across northern Australia. They are the largest bird in Australia that maintain solitary and distance from humans. Their diet includes carnivore items like birds, mammals, and insects.
Rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus moluccanus) are vibrant, friendly, and talkative birds that are a treat to be around. The ranging hues on their body- deep blue head with a greenish-yellow nuchal collar, green upperparts, orange-yellow chest, deep blue belly, and green thighs and rumps perfectly suit their name. They are 25 to 30 cm (9.8 to 11.8 in) in length and their weight varies from 75 to 157 g (2.6–5.5 oz).
Rainbow lorikeets are available in a wide range of treed habitats in coastal regions across northern and eastern Australia, with a local population in Perth (Western Australia) and Tasmania. These birds have friendly personalities and don’t shy away from comical antics. They are highly intelligent and learn tips and tricks easily. However, they are also noisy birds with high-pitched tones and squawks. These native Australian animals feed on nectar and pollen, fruits, seeds, and insects and have a lifespan of around 30 years.
Rainbow bee-eater is a brightly coloured bird which is spectacular to the eyes. These native Australian animals are 23–28 cm (9.1–11.0 in) in length and weigh 20–33 g (0.71–1.16 oz). They have a green colour upper back and wings, bright blue lower back and under tail coverts, black to deep violet tail, and rust-coloured underwing. You can find these colourful species in mainland Australia in open woodlands, forests, and shrublands.
Rainbow Bee-eater or Merops Ornatus gets its name from its diet of insects like bees, butterflies, dragonflies, etc. These brightly-coloured birds are monogamous and live for up to 2 years. They use disturbed areas like quarries and mine sites to build their nests.
Another shy, distinctive, and colourful native Australian bird is a noisy pitta. It is a treat to watch this beautiful bird in Eastern coastal Australia inhabiting tropical and subtropical rainforests. The various colours on their body are black head and neck, chestnut brown with a central black stripe crown, dark green upper parts with bright blue shoulder patches, and a mustard yellow underside with red patches in the rear.
- Noisy pitta or Pitta Versicolor looks and behaves as follows:
- Length 19-21 cm or 7.5- 8.3 inches
- Weight males- 0–112 g (2.5–4.0 oz) and females 70–128 g (2.5–4.5 oz).
- They use anvils to break their food.
- They mostly feed on insects and snails and occasionally eat fruits and live for about 6 years.
- It gives out a walk-to-work call.
Kookaburra (laughing kookaburra or laughing jackass) gets its name from its distinct and loud bird call that sounds like human laughter. This 28- 45 cm in length and 0.5 kg weight animal lives in eucalyptus forests and woodlands throughout eastern Australia. The physical colour of these native Australian animals is as follows:
- Upper plumage- dark brown
- Lower plumage- off-white
- Reddish brown tail with black bands
- Brown eye stripe across the face
Dacelo novaeguineae, the scientific name of the kookaburra, do not laugh if held in captivity. They prey on frogs, lizards, worms, fishes, small insects, and even other birds, etc. and live for 15- 20 years. Their neck muscles are strong due to bashing their prey. A weird fact about them is that the group of kookaburras is called riot due to their loud sounds. Book a Blue Mountains private tour from Sydney with Sydney Top Tours to see laughing kookaburras in the wild.
Little penguin stands true to its name, being the smallest penguin species. It is in New Zealand and Australia, specifically the Southern Australian coastline. but the species differ in many ways. This animal is 40 cm tall and weighs just 1 kg. It is blue, grey, and white in colour and has three eyelids. A salt gland exists above their eyes to extract salt from seawater. The salt by-product gets excreted through sneezing. Eudyptula Novaehollandiae (the scientific name of the little penguin) live up to 6.5 years. They eat fish like young barracuda, anchovies, red cod, etc. Philip Island is the most recommended place in Australia to see these cute fairy penguins.
Another native Australian animal that appears to be a large shaggy dog with two skinny and scaly legs is Emu, the bird. The large red eyes staring at you can seem intimidating. It isn’t aggressive and attack-ready but can hurt badly if provoked. The general name of an emu is emu, but scientifically they are Dromaius novaehollandiae, known as a fast runner from New Guinea. These creatures thrive for 10 to 20 years in the wild and 35 years in captivity.
They grow up to 2 metres in length and gain up to 60 kgs weight. They have a shaggy grey, brown to black plumage. Naked skin around the face and neck is a striking blue and black colour. Their residence is in open plains and forests with eucalypt, wattle, and banksia plants. The areas they don’t inhabit are the aridest regions of the Australian desert, rainforests and the island of Tasmania. They are mostly vegetarian but can eat both plants and animals, depending on seasonal availability. The animals in their diet include insects they can swallow whole. Other well-known facts about these species include:
- The tallest and fastest land Australian bird.
- Good swimmers and love flicking in ponds and lakes.
- Can jump as high as it is tall.
An endemic shorebird, inland dotterel is a unique and beautiful bird. It has a rich, sandy buff with brown marks on the upper parts, while the black and white bands and marks are on different spots. They find their habitat in arid southeast and southwest Australia, where they grow in size 19–23 cm (7.5–9 in) in length and weigh 80–90 g (2.8–3.2 oz). Further, they live up to 10 to 32 years.
These native Australian animals have the scientific name Peltohyas australis. They can tolerate high temperatures up to 40 C or 104 F and run rather than fly when approached. Daytime these animals will feed on the fleshy part of shrubs, while in the nighttime- insects like spiders and grasshoppers become a part of their diet.
The ground-dwelling, shy, and seldom-seen native Australian animals are known as Malleefowl. Their 60 cm length, 2.5 kg weight, grey heads, cream-white breasts, and white, grey, brown, and black mottles on their wings make them unique-looking creatures. You can find them in arid and semi-arid regions of inland Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, and central NSW.
Malleefowl or Leipoa Ocellata are monogamous species that mate for life. They are considered threatened and listed as vulnerable and endangered under different acts. These animals have a lifespan of around 15 years and live on omnivorous diets, including wattle seeds, flowers, insects, etc.
Jabiru (Black-necked stork)
Jabiru (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) is a massive-billed stork from tropical lowlands. They are different from the American and Mexican species of Jabiru. Its black and white body plumage, glossy dark or iridescent-green and purple neck, large black bill, and long coral-red legs add to its 133 cm height. It is also known as the black-necked stork owing to the black colour on its body.
You can distinguish female jabirus with their yellow eyes. Jabirus stray into open, grassland areas for food, which contain fish, small crustaceans, and amphibians. Their lifespan is 33- 34 years.
Metallic Starling (Alponis Metallica) gets its name from the unique colour scheme- all-black plumage, green and purple iridescence in sunlight, dark streaks, and red-coloured eyes. It is 9 inches or 22.9 cm in length, and its weight is 1.7 to 2.4 oz or 48 to 67 g. Native to New Guinea, Queensland, Moluccas, and the Soloman Islands, These birds chatter constantly and communicate in high-pitched songs with one another. They are abundant and known for dispersing seeds. They eat insects and fruits and live up to 15 years. This bird appears as shining in the sun and is among the prettiest native Australian animals.
A ground-dwelling and pheasant-like cuckoo, the pheasant coucal has short-rounded wings and a long tail. It is 50- 70 cm in length, and its average weight is around 380 gm. It has a black head, neck, and body, reddish-brown upper parts and wings, black and cream barring, and a barred orange-black tail. The scientific name of pheasant coucal is Centropus phasianinus.
You can find these native Australian animals in Northern and Eastern Australia, New Guinea, and East Timor, from New South Wales’s south coast to north of Cape York, Sydney. These coucals can live for a maximum of 15 years on the planet and feed on the ground on large insects, lizards, frogs, etc., to sustain themselves. They build their own nests and do not lay eggs in other species’ nests. Its summer voice is a low descending oop, and its winter sound is like a sharp hiss.
Topknot pigeons get their unique name from their appearance as they have a pony-like knot on their head. They are the only rainforest pigeons to fly high above the canopy tree. However, forest clearance and shooting decreased their number in Australian rainforests, wet forests, and woodlands of Australia from Queensland to Broken Bay, New South Wales, and Sydney, where they dwell.
Topknot pigeons (Lopholaimus antarcticus) are 40- 46 cm (16-18 in) in length. They are dark and light grey with pale colours on the wings and black tails. They are frugivores that eat rainforest fruits and live up to 10- 15 years.
Native Australian Animals – reptiles
A venomous addition to the native Australian animal’s list is of Inland Taipan snake. Although its venom is the most toxic, there haven’t been any reports of human fatality from its bite. Oxyuranus Microlepidotus, the scientific name of the inland Taipan snake, is on average a 2m snake that weighs between 1- 2 kg. Its dark tan colour with varying hues on scales reflects its charm.
These native Australian animals can be found in South Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory semi-arid regions. These carnivores only feed on mammals, especially rodents and live for 10- 15 years. It strikes instantly with utmost accuracy multiple times, and its single bite can kill a person within 30-45 mins if not treated.
Perentie is the largest monitor lizard. But, due to its shyness and remoteness, it isn’t much visible. However, you can find them in arid desert areas of Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, and South Australia. Perentie (Varanus Giganteus) has a length of up to 2.5 m (Average between 1.75 and 2) and weighs anywhere between 15 – 20 kg. It is brown in colour with large cream or yellow rosettes.
- These creatures belong to the carnivores group, eating insects, birds, small to mid-sized dogs, wombats, kangaroos, etc. Some must-know facts about them include:
- Their throats swell, and they hiss when feeling threatened.
- Humans and dingos can eat perentie.
- Their bites can cause damage due to bacteria in their mouth.
- The lifespan of a Perentie is between 15- 20 years.
Woma is a non-venomous snake among native Australian animals with distinctive body patterns. Also known as Ramsay’s python or sand’s python, it is 1.5 m or 4.5 feet in length and weighs 5 kg. It has a pale brown or black dorsal colour. The ground colour pattern varies from medium brown and olive to lighter orange, pink, and red shades. Further, it has a cream and light yellow belly with brown and pink blotches.
Woma (Aspidites ramsayi) resides in the West and centre of Australia, Northern South Australia, in deserts, shrublands, woodlands, grasslands, etc. These snakes lead a solitary and sedentary lifestyle. They are nocturnal living in hollow logs and burrows during the day. Their lifespan is 20- 30 years with a carnivore diet, including small mammals, insects, lizards, and ground birds.
Among the native Australian animals stand an aggressive amphibian known as a crocodile. The Australian Saltwater crocodile is larger and more dangerous, with an enormous mouth full of pointed teeth. Their physical appearance is scary as they grow over 6m (20ft) in size and weigh over 1,000kg (2,200lb). Their upper body varies from tan, greenish-drab to almost black with a cream-coloured underside and a grey tail with dark bands.
- Living in South Australia, the Australian Saltwater Crocodile aka Crocodylus porosus are:
- Cold-blooded reptiles that can hold breath underwater for under an hour
- Have excellent homing instincts to take them back to their original destination
- Eating underwater can drown them
- They can eat anything from small to large animals and even humans, but may also eat fruits like berries and grapes. Further, they can live on the Eart for about 100 years.