Australia is one of the world’s most diverse countries like no other in the world. Home to more than one million unique unusual native species, Australia is every wildlife enthusiast’s favorite hangout. It is a pretty well-known fact that Australia was separated from the group some 45 million years ago. This geographic isolation paved way for a new set of Australian animals found nowhere else in the world; some may be dangerous. Australian animals are known for their individuality; 93% of amphibians, 90% of insects and fish, 89% of reptiles, and almost 83% of mammals that are found in this continent are native to this country.
Two types of mammals that are unique to Australia are marsupials and monotremes. Marsupials like Kangaroos carry their babies with them wherever they go in their pouch while monotremes like echidna and platypus lay eggs. Here, we have shared details about some of the most stunning and amazing Australian animals.
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Announced as New South Wales’s state animal in the year 1971, monotreme mammals like platypus and echidna are unique to Australia. Platypus suckles their young and lay eggs, are native to this region. Platypus is not an endangered species after gaining legal protection in the 1920’s.
Platypus can be described as a mishmash of well-known species: otter ( fur and body), beaver (tail), and duck (webbed feet and bill). Even Males are highly venomous. With stingers present on their rear feet heels, they can assault any foe with their toxic venom.
The beak of a platypus is flexible and rubbery. It contains electroreceptor cells in them, using which it detects its prey sensing their electrical currents.
Lengthwise, male platypus average around 20 inches or 50 cm and females average 17 inches or 43 cm. The female and male platypus weighs 0.7 to 1.6 kg and 1 to 2.4 kg respectively.
They are found along Australia’s eastern coast, on the route from Tasmania to Queensland (far north). A platypus digs a burrow near the river bank and lives in them. The entrance to this burrow is usually a couple of meters(maybe 1 or 2) above water level. The barrow looks oval in shape, different from other holes.
Platypuses are bottom feeders. Their diet consists of worms, shellfish, larvae and it also includes small vertebrates. They use their bill to scoop their diet along with traces of mud and gravel from the bottom. They store these materials in the cheek pouches and mash them before consumption. Platypuses are born without teeth and the gravel aids them to consume their meal.
- Since platypuses do not have teeth, they use their distinct grinding pads in their mouths to grind or crush their preys.
- A new young platypus is referred to as “platypus”; officially they do not have a name.
- The platypus is strongly built to survive underwater for at least 10 minutes before resurfacing for air.
Along with platypus, echidna belongs to the family of monotremes. The echidna at times is known as Spiny Anteaters, that is, they resemble a porcupine and a hedgehog combined but with sharp spines. They are believed to have evolved anywhere between 30– 45 million years ago. Echidna’s ancestor was considered aquatic but present-day echidnas have learned to survive on land.
By description, they are solitary mammals consisting of coarse spines and hairs and are medium in size. They are normally brown or black in color. Echidnas have slender and elongated snouts that are multi-functional in nature, acting as both nose and mouth. Like platypuses, echidnas too have electro-sensors on its beak.
They are powerful diggers with large claws and very strong limbs. Echidnas have toothless jaws and tiny mouths.
The average weight of a fully grown female and male echidna is 9.9 and 13.2 lbs respectively. They grow anywhere between 12-18 inches or 30 – 45 cms. The maximum length of their snouts is usually 3 inches or 75 mm typically.
Echidnas do not have the capacity to bear extreme weather conditions. They take shelter in rock crevices and caves to escape from hard weather conditions. They can be located in piles or roots of debris, under vegetation, and in woodlands and forests. Some echidnas also use wombats and rabbits burrows as their habitats.
Echidnas are adaptable swimmers. They take to water to bathe and groom themselves.
Long-beaked and short-beaked echidnas feast on insect larvae and worms and termites and ants respectively. Long-beaked echidnas have tiny spines on their tongues using which they hunt their preys.
- Echidnas have a long lifespan and considering their size, 50 years is quite a staggering number.
- They have a lower body temperature, 90 degrees. They can shut down their temperature regular system as per their body
- An adult echidna weighing around 3 kg can consume around 200 gms of insects and ants in a short span of 10 minutes. Heavier the echidna, more it eats.
- Echidnas do not have stable homes and move from one nest to another.
- The echidna flea is regarded as the world’s longest flea with a length of 4 mm.
- Their brain size is big for too big for their body size.
The thorny dragon or thorny devil is a unique and special Australian lizard. Belonging to the Agamidae family of lizards, they are also referred to as Moloch, thorny lizard, or mountain devil. With a lifespan of 15-20 years, they usually appear in camouflaging shades such as tans and desert browns. An intimidating bunch of spikes completely covers the upper body portion of this Australian lizard.
The thorny devil’s odd gait involves rocking and freezing as it goes in search of mates, water, or food. Using its false head, thorny lizard fools its predators and safeguards its life. Despite its harsh appearance, the thorny dragon is not known to disturb humans.
The average size of a thorny devil is not more than 7.9 in or 20 cm and the female thorny devils are slightly bigger than their male counterparts. A fully grown thorny dragon can weigh anywhere in the range of 70 to 90 grams.
The thorny dragon can be mostly found in central Australia; in the desert cover and arid scrubland. It can be mostly spotted in the mallee belt and in the interiors of sandridge desert. Moreover, wherever sandy loam soils are prevalent in Australia one can spot the thorny lizard there.
The daily diet of a thorny lizard mainly consists of ants especially the Ochetellus genera or Iridomyrmex, and Ochetellus flavipes ant species. On an average, a thorny devil can consume at least 500 to 3000 ants.
They collect moisture using the condensation that takes at night on their bodies. This dew is then transported using hygroscopic grooves in the gaps between its spines to the thorny lizard’s mouth. During wet seasons, this lizard absorbs water using all parts of its body.
- The thorny devil has the capacity to camouflage its body color to match the surroundings.
- If someone tries to attack this animal, it tries to hold on to the ground with its curved tail and spines.
- The thorny devil has a fake head and when threatened it tucks its real head under its front legs and shoo away the predator showing it’s false head.
Marsupials belonging to the genus Dendrolagus, Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos are designed for arboreal locomotion. Also called as Boongary, they are named after the famed Norwegian C.Lumholtz, a naturalist. There are two types of tree-kangaroos in Australia; Bennett’s tree-kangaroo and Lumholtz tree-kangaroo. Tree-kangaroos are considered as the real arboreal macropods.
They move at a very slow pace on ground while they move with brisk pace on trees. Tree-kangaroos are expert leapers. Their hind feet are broader and have a pendulous large tail giving them tremendous balance during motion about the trees. A tree-kangaroos grip is often soft on their soles and paws.
Tree-kangaroos cool their body by licking their forearms and regulate the body heat using a type of behavioural thermoregulation.
Moreover, tree-kangaroos are declining in numbers due to habitat destruction and hunting.
Smallest of all existing tree-kangaroos, Lumholtz’s tree kangaroo head length and body can be anywhere between 48 to 65 cms and the tail length can be between 60 to 74 cm.
The female and male Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos weigh 13 lb and 16 lb respectively.
The Lumholtz’s tree kangaroos can be found in Queensland’s Atherton Tablelands and their surrounding hills.
Tree kangaroos feed on tree bark, sap, flour, and grains. Their main diet consists of fruits and leaves from the trees and occasionally they feed scavenge for food from the ground.
- Tree-kangaroos have the agility to leap huge distances around 15 meters in the air.
- Male tree-kangaroos are bigger in size than female tree-kangaroos.
- The length of a tree-kangaroos tail is same as their body length. While leaping from one place to another, their tails provide them the perfect balance and support.
- They can jump around 60 feet or 18 meters to safely reach the ground.
- Tree-kangaroos are diurnals; silent during the night and active in the daytime.
- Known to survive more than 20 years under protection or captivity, they are listed as critically endangered and vulnerable species.
A type of marsupial mammal, sugar gliders are scientifically known as Petaurus breviceps. The sugar glider is a type of arboreal gliding possum. Their common name mentions its liking for sugar like nectarous foods. Sugar gliders have the capacity to fly through the air. Their habits and appearance are similar to a flying squirrel even though they are not closely related.
A sugar glider is known for its patagium, a kind of gliding membrane, which spreads from the forelegs all the way to the hind legs, located on both sides. They have an expected lifespan of 9 years.
Normally found in silvery blue with a dark stripe on its back, a sugar slider makes different types of noises depending on the conditions. When they are in their nest, they produce a “gurgling chatter” kind of noise. They produce a sharp shriek during fights and a shrill yapping sound when they spot a predator close by.
They have a squirrel-like structure with a prehensile tail partially (weak) and long. The total length of the sugar glider from the nose tip to the tail end is normally 9 to 12 inches or 24 to 30 cms. The females and males weigh 115 and 140 grams respectively. A sugar glider’s respiration rate and heartbeat rate is 16 to 40 per 60 seconds and 200 to 300 beats per 60 seconds.
They are found in mainland Australia’s eastern and northern parts and Tasmania. Both tropical, as well as cool climate, sugar glider’s, are found in places with plenty of rainfall. Usually found near acacia or eucalypt scrub plants; woodlands, dry and wet forests.
They require places with large canopy cover, and thick upper and mid-canopy cover, which allows for better movement.
They eat sap and gum from eucalyptus and acacias tree scrubs and also feed on arboreal insects. Gliders per day consume around 11 g food. In summer and winter, they feed on insects and lerp, honeydew, manna, sap, eucalyptus sap, and acacia gum respectively.
At times they can be carnivorous, feeding on small birds and lizards. They also depend upon native and fungi fruits, pollen, bird eggs, acacia seeds, and nectar.
- Using their gliding membrane, they can travel a distance of more than 50 – 100 meters.
- They are most active at night and take rest in the tree-hallows during the day.
- No more than 7 to 12 gliders will live in a nest and it is mainly done to contain their body heat.
- Sugar gliders behave very playfully within their clan but will thwart all sorts of intrusion, including other sugar gliders and any other animal.
- Young newborn sugar gliders are known as “Joeys”.
- Even though they appear small in size, they are not rodents.
Regarded as one of the world’s ugliest animal, the blobfish resides in the deep waters safely away from the coasts of Australia’s mainland and Tasmania. This fat headed fish looks like a tadpole. Even under tremendous depths, the body of the blobfish can withstand huge pressure. The Blobfish’s jelly-like body is strong enough to survive under severe ocean pressure. Their metabolic rate is very low to survive in these harsh conditions.
They belong to the Psychrolutidae family, which consists of fathead scullions and fathead. They dwell in the deep pockets of the ocean.
A blobfish is less than 12 inches or 30 cms. They reside at great depths anywhere between 600 & 1200 m below sea level. An average blobfish weighs around 2 kgs. Their eyes are large black in color and have a big mouth with sharp teeth. A blunt flat snout with a large globulous head makes it one of the ugliest creatures on earth. Normally found in pink color with grey tones, they are free from scales.
Blobfish are unique bottom dwellers. They dwell at depths not less than 1000 meters underwater. With gelatinous flesh mass and a density lower than water, the blobfish can stay above the ocean floor.
The blobfish is an extremely depressed and a lazy fish. Since they live at such great depths, they don’t have any friends as such. They eat mollusks, sea urchins, crabs, small fish, sea pens, and all sorts of matter(edible) that floats close to them. A blobfish is, therefore, a herbivore, omnivore, and a carnivore.
- At present, it is estimated that not more than 420 blobfishes are totally left. For several reasons like this, a blobfish is considered an endangered species.
- They lack both teeth and bones. Other than eating, the main task of a blobfish is to conserve energy.
- Not an active hunter, a blobfish sucks small crustaceans like shellfish, and sea urchins as and when they float close by.
- The Blobfish is under severe threat due to extinction and it nests not less than 9000 eggs.
- This fish was unceremoniously crowned as the ugliest animal 2013.
- At home, a blobfish is not as ugly as it looks on land.
The red kangaroo is declared as the world’s largest extant land marsupial. Looks-wise, they appear with long ears, pointed in shape and a cute distinct squared-off muzzle. They generally travel in groups known as Mobs. Female kangaroos are much smaller in size than their male counterparts. Male kangaroos appear with red-brown fur short in nature and females with brown tinge blue-grey fur. Males and females have the pale buff and pale grey fading below and also on their limbs respectively.
The legs of a red kangaroo functions like an elastic rubber-band. The speed and strength of a kangaroo are world renowned. The red kangaroos are capable enough to touch the average top speed of 35 miles per sixty minutes. A male red kangaroo can easily cross 27 to 30 ft in one giant leap and jump as high as 6 to 10 ft.
Since females are smaller than males they have a tail length of 26 to 33 inches while males have close to 1.2 meters. Head and body measurement of a male stands at 4.3 to 5.2 ft while it is 2.2 to 3.4 ft for females. The average weight of a male kangaroo is 121-198 lbs and 40-88 lbs for females. In an upright posture, an average red kangaroo can stand tall at 4.9 ft or 1.5 meters. Some are known to reach 2.1 m while standing tall.
Red kangaroos live in mobs or groups in Australia’s open grasslands and deserts. European Australians and Aboriginal have done things to help them grow multi-fold. They have managed to create water sources and clear large tracts of land for their survival. Thousands of them roam the vast lands of Australia and get killed for their meat and skin.
Red kangaroos are vegetarians. They feed on low herbaceous plants and grasses. At times, the grazing schedule starts from late evening and continues till next day morning. A red kangaroo can survive with less water to drink by feeding on the adequate green cover.
- Kangaroo-boxing refers to the way two male kangaroos fight over future mates. They use their tail for balance and box each other using their powerful hind legs.
- Female red kangaroos are also known as “blue fliers”.
- A female kangaroo will give birth to only one baby in every pregnancy. The size of a newborn kangaroo can be compared to that of a small cherry.
- The newborn kangaroo does not emerge out of their mother’s pouch at least for a period of 2 months.
- Red kangaroos use a thump signal to warn its mob members of impending danger.
- They are designed to breed all 365 days a year.
Eastern Long-Necked Turtle
The Eastern long-necked or snake-necked turtle is an active but shy animal. Chelodina longicollis is its scientific name. Being a side-necked animal, this turtle bends its head slightly sideways and does not pull its neck directly inside its shell.
The normal color of the carapace is brown or black. It is flattened and broad with a medial groove. Light-background colored turtles have scutes in black. The plastron is generally yellow to cream in color. Plastron’s have sutures in black color and appear broad in shape. The neck of an Eastern long-necked turtle can reach more than 60% of its carapace length. The neck portion consists of multiple small pointed tubercles.
The top oval looking shell is relatively smooth and flat not more than 250 mm in dimensions. The sizes recorded for males and females varies from one place to another. In Murray region, it is 9.8 inch and 11.1 inches for male and female respectively. In Latrobe Valley, males are 7.4 inches long and females measure 8.5 inches. The size variation is believed to be linked to local environment productivity.
The Eastern long-necked turtle 7 can be found in Adelaide, Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales region. These can be located in inland freshwaters including the rivers, swamps, billabongs, and dams etc. They lie around on logs and rocks with soft sand for their aquatic homes.
Eastern long-necked turtles are meat eaters or carnivorous. This includes molluscs, crustaceans, small fish, frogs, tadpoles, worms, and insects. This turtle eats large preys by crushing it into small pieces with the help of their strong front claws. They are opportunistic feeders.
- This turtle emits a bad smelling fluid to ward off its predators earning it the nicknames “stinker” etc. The musk glands present in the turtle emit this foul-smelling
- Eastern long-necked turtles normally breed in the months of summer, laying between 2-10 eggs.
- The eggs of these turtles are often consumed by large lizards and water rats. The newborn babies normally fall prey to large birds and fish.
- They have strong powerful front claws and their web feet makes it easy for them to swim.
A large cute white parrot, the Sulphur-crested cockatoo is one of the best recognizable parrots in Australasia. Cacatua galerita or sulfur crested cockatoo belongs to the big varieties of cockatoos. They are so large in numbers, sometimes being regarded pests. A highly brilliant bird, and are held in high esteem in aviculture. Sulphur-crested cockatoos are very demanding pets.
A yellow wash present on its wing’s underside makes it an attractive bird. With a distinct yellow crest and a grey-black bill, the sulfur-crested cockatoo is a nice looking bird. The males can be distinguished from their female counterparts with the help of their eye color. Males have dark brown eyes while females have red-brown ones. This is a conspicuous cum noisy cockatoo, both in flight and at rest. Young and the adult cockatoos appear similar in stature.
There are four types of cockatoos namely
- Greater sulfur-crested cockatoo – Found in the belt from Cape York to Tasmania.
- Mathews cockatoo – Can be located from West Australia all the way till Carpentaria
- Eleonora cockatoo – Mostly found in eastern Indonesia, in the Aru Islands.
- Triton cockatoo – Surrounding islands and New Guinea.
The various sizes(body length) of cockatoos are
- Eleonora – 43 cm; weight- 530 gms (males heavier than females)
- Triton – 45 cm; weight – 550 to 600 gms
- Greater – 50 cm; weight- 700 to 1000 gms
Sulphur-crested cockatoos – Northern regions of West Australia, Northern territory coastal regions, South-eastern and eastern regions, from south Northern Queensland to Tasmania. They are also thriving in numbers in Australia’s south-western region. Also present in Aru Islands and New Guinea, they can be found in Indonesia and New Zealand.
Mostly present in timbered habitats and in predominant human settlements, the cockatoos normally stay in one area throughout the year.
The Sulphur-crested cockatoos feed on roots, nuts, seeds, and berries. Human handouts are also encouraged. At times, they break small leaves and pieces of small branches. However, they do not feed on them. They love to feast on seeds and this behavior is regarded a pest.
- The flock of sulfur-crested cockatoos can be highly noisy.
- Sulphur-crested cockatoos are generally more active and happy in the mornings.
- They are known for their super-intelligence skills. It is definitely a challenge to have them contented and occupied.
- A fresh stock of wood needs to be supplied every week and willow, hazel, and apple solve that purpose.
- A frustrated cockatoo can be identified with its ability to gnaw.
Red Bellied Black Snake
This elapid snake is endemic to Australia’s eastern part. Although the venom of this red-bellied snake is capable of causing some anguish, its bite is not usually fatal. Australia’s most-common known snakes, a red-bellied black snake can be found in many urban areas in eastern Australia.
The snake with a medium-built, the head of the snake is barely distinct from its neck. The snout is pale brown in color while body color and the dorsal head are black. The outer border of the abdominal scales and the low scale rows (lateral) are pink or orange, dull red, bright crimson in the middle portion of the belly. The ventral color can range from white to greyish pink in the north. The tail’s underside is mostly black. The body scales are glossy and smooth. Eyes are brown in color, medium size. The red-bellied black snake’s pupil is round and its iris is pitch dark.
The snake reaches a maximum length of 2 meters and the average length of a red-bellied black snake is 1.4 meters. Like other varieties of Elapid snakes, the red-bellied is front fanged. The number of mid-body scales is around 17. The maximum reported the length of this snake is 8 feet and 4 inches.
This snake species can be found in grasslands, woodlands, forests, lagoons, swamps, and streams. They can be traced to places having moisture. Red-bellied black snakes also inhabit rural as well as distributed areas. These snakes shelter under large rocks, mammal dreys and burrows, logs, and in grass clumps.
Being native to eastern Australia, they can be traced in Adelaide, Cairns, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, and Canberra.
Red-bellied black snake diet includes small mammals, reptiles, and frogs. They also feed on snakes from their own species. Red-bellied snakes fall prey to the toxins of the cane toad. These snakes prefer to consume live food. Captive red-bellied black snakes are fed with mice.
- It is considered as the least hazardous elapid snake variety in Australia.
- Being shy in nature, they don’t bite their victims unless and otherwise seriously threatened.
- The introduction of cane toads has severely affected its growing population.
- Red-bellied black snakes are diurnal.
- Under threat, the red-bellied black snake can stay underwater for a maximum duration of 23 minutes.
- This snake can be confused with Copperhead Austrelaps spp, Cryptophis nigrescens, and Pseudechis guttatus