Amazing Australian Animals Facts You Didn’t Know
Australia is home to a wide variety of animals that includes mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Many of Australia’s mammals are introduced pests, such as the rabbit and the fox. But there are also many native species like kangaroos, wombats, koalas, and Tasmanian Devils.
The mainland of Australia is home to about 238 species of bird and Tasmania is home to an additional 20! Of course with so many different habitats in Australia it’s not surprising that there are such a wide variety. If you’re ever visiting the country you can count on seeing a range from large Eagles, Kookaburras and Cockatoos to small Cassowarys and Wrens.
Australia is home to some of the most unique and uniquely beautiful animals in the world, such as the Tasmanian Devil (the largest known carnivorous marsupial of all time). Even more amazing is that there are no less than 4 different frog species that live in the country.
There are over 350 or more different species of reptiles in Australia and a wide variety of sizes. With so many different reptiles to see there are always some small, medium or large-sized to see during your visit.
The continent is home to lots of mammals including kangaroos, wombats, koalas and dingoes. The kangaroo, for example, is the largest marsupial in the world and the symbol of Australia. Some of these creatures are great to spot in the wild while you’re visiting the country.
The kangaroo is the most well-known Australian animal. They are called ‘kangaroos’ because of their large, long legs which make them hop about. They can jump up to eight meters from standing still and get up to speeds of nearly 60 kilometers per hour when they are hopped full speed!
Australian animals have a great diversity in their habitats, so there are many different types of Australian animals even in just one country. Australia is very unusual in that it is the only continent in the world with no native placental mammals.
Dingoes, which are wild dogs found in Australia, are thought to have been introduced to Australia by the Asian cultures thousands of years ago. Dingoes, unlike other dogs, used to be common and widespread throughout Australia until the 1800s when they were exterminated across most of the country by European settlers. Now dingoes are only found east of the Great Dividing Range. They are one of few predators capable of taking on kangaroos as adults but their numbers have now been depleted due to human activity and there is some concern for their conservation status.
The Tasmanian devil is also an animal that used to be common but is now much rarer. The Tasmanian devil is the only carnivorous marsupial and its distinctive black and white markings make it very obvious. It eats almost anything, including possums, wallabies and even small kittens!
The wombat is another ‘feral’ animal which became free in their natural environment and people have to take care of them because they are a bit naughty! The wombat digs a big hole in the ground with its front paws before ‘burying’ itself by lying on its back (i.e. like a bat) with its legs sticking up above the ground (like a fairy). Then it digs its way back up to its burrow. It spends most of the day chewing on grass and only comes out at night when it goes to sleep.
There are a lot more animals in Australia which are not native and have been introduced by people. The black swan is one of these animals – the only bird in the world that lives completely south of the Equator! It is an entirely white bird with a black beak, long legs and highly-developed wings for gliding. It usually swims across the continent using thermal updrafts instead of migrating north like other birds do, but some also travel north as far as Tasmania and New Zealand.
There are also some creatures that people usually think of when they hear ‘Australian animals’. The platypus is one of these. The platypus is a semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. Platypuses have been introduced to New Zealand and Tasmania for hunting and also to South America for breeding in captivity.
The echidna is another unusual mammal which lives in Australia. Echidnas are also called “spiny anteaters”. Echidnas are the only living mammals that lay eggs instead of giving live birth. The echidna has a large spiny back, a big stomach and rough hair (like a pelt). They live in a burrow and also use their spines to dig it.
There are plenty more Australian animals. Some of them are only found in Australia and some of them have been introduced from other countries. The native species are the ones that stayed and did not leave for any other reason than they could not or did not want to (like the platypus). The non-native species were brought to Australia by people like tourists, researchers or because they were useful to people as food, medicine, pets or other reasons.
Australian Southern Cassowary
Southern Cassowary is a large flightless bird native to Australia. These animals are the only cassowaries that are seen in the vicinity of mainland Australia. They were originally found in Cape York Peninsula and Gulf Country, but recent sightings have also been reported from other parts of northern Queensland like Jardine River National Park and Weipa, which has led to the speculation that they might be expanding their range.
They’re about 55 to 60 cm (22 to 24 inches) long and an obese weight of 120-180 kg. The pair of Cassowaries may not be able to stand together at one side, but they can run really fast and if the cassowary is caught it could be dangerous if it can’t run away quickly. They are also known as the ‘flying kangaroo’ due to their ability to fly when being threatened or when hunting in deep forests.
The name of Cassowary comes from an Aboriginal word. The first Cassoware was brought to England in 1791 by Joseph Banks, as a decorative cage for two Imperial Eagles.
The cassowary has two types of feathers that make it look shiny and attractive. The males have black feathers but the females have brown feathers. Cassowaries have a small crest on their head which is a symbol of strength and beauty and are the only living non-passerine birds that show sexual dimorphism. Their crest is thick in adults but gets thinner with juveniles. The cassowary’s plumage is iridescent, with red, orange, yellowish or blue patterns visible at different angles of light (or under different lighting conditions). The colors of the feathers change when a group of cassowaries get together. This is called en masse. Cassowaries have a dark blue streak on their face with a whitish tip on the bill. They are also known for their long, powerful legs.
Cassowaries are the second largest bird in Australia and New Guinea, after the emu. The cassowary looks like an oversized version of a chicken with sharp claws to protect itself from predators. It is fast and can run up to 29 miles per hour (47 km/h). They can spring up to 10 feet (3 meters) high into the air, flap their wings repeatedly, and move their heads from side to side. Cassowaries have three toes on each foot, with claws at the ends of the toes.
Cassowaries are solitary except during mating season. They live in groups called flocks once they enter the breeding season. The male will establish a territory where he will build a nest for himself and his partners in order to breed with them. Flocks will form during breeding season due to increased food needs and increased competition for mates. The female cassowary lays around 6 large eggs which hatch 4 weeks later. After the young are born the male will stay in his nest where he will be observed by other cassowaries and predators. The female on the other hand will go search for food to feed herself and her young. The parents will protect their young until they are a year old. After that they are on their own.
Female and juvenile cassowaries live in flocks with other females and juveniles, while adult cassowaries live alone, except during mating season (males leave their territory during this time).
Tasmanian Devils are a large, carnivorous marsupial found in the wild only in Tasmania. The devil is perhaps Australia’s most famous animal after the koala, and is known for its voracious appetite and foul odor.
The Tasmanian devil was first seen by Europeans when Lieutenant John Bowen encountered the then-unnamed animal at Risdon Cove in south-eastern Tasmania on March 1, 1803. He described it as “a curious kind of animal, which seems to fill up the interval between the wolf and dog.” It became known as “the new carnivorous marsupial” — a general term that included everything from kangaroos to possums.
Not as big as the mainland’s famous dingo, the devil is about 50 cm long, excluding its tail. That’s about a meter. Its body is covered with coppery-brown fur and its head has a distinctive whorl of hair around the ears and neck. It also has two prominent “warts” on its chest and a tail which ends in a black club.
The devil has often been described as “cute,” but this is not a word that many people would choose today. The truth is that devils are incredibly ugly! But their appearance can be deceptive. In a species which feeds on carrion, the devil looks every inch the scavenger. It’s also known to use meat as a lure for its enemies.
But it’s the devil that eats meat — and a lot of it — that is its most famous characteristic. And this is where the curiosity becomes pathological. The Tasmanian devil is one of only four carnivorous marsupials left on the continent, and it is most famous for its voracious appetite and its apparent ability to eat anything (except fish). That’s right — even meat!
The devil is regarded as a generalist carnivore, but it has its favorites. It is most attracted to roadkill. It also prefers the flesh of small mammals, reptiles and birds, and will eat carrion if no other food is available. But despite its appetite, the Tasmanian devil is able to live in a variety of habitats: from heathlands and rainforests to arid alpine areas.
Known for its voracious appetite and foul odor, the Tasmanian devil is often portrayed as an affront to nature. And yet, these marsupials are highly adaptable and can survive in a variety of habitats. A few famous species — the Hawaiian hoary bat, the dingo and the bandicoot — began as feral animals, which is to say that they only appeared in the wild after escaping from captivity. The Tasmanian devil is also thought to have originated this way, though it now exists in its own right.
The devil favours carrion but will also hunt ‘live’ prey. Its favorite foods include possums, wombats and rodents; it will even eat eggs when presented with them. Devil facial tumors can spread to their stomachs and intestines, enabling the animals to eat food that is normally indigestible.
The Tasmanian devil is one of only four carnivorous marsupials left on the continent. The other three are the Tasmanian tiger, also known as Thylacine; the spotted-tailed quoll; and the numbat.
Where they live
Today, there’s no doubt that Tasmania is home to many devils. Their population has increased dramatically since they were first noticed in 1803. They’re now found throughout Tasmania: from Cape Portland in the north to south of Hobart near Pieman Heads in the west.
Laughing Kookaburras are one of the world’s most distinctive birds. They have a unique call that sounds like a human laugh or cackle. It is not known how their call became so different from other birds, but scientists believe it may be an adaptation to help them overcome other species of kookaburra that compete for territory.
The Laughing Kookaburra enjoy living in areas where there are plenty of trees and shrubs with which to build their nests. They also like to live near water, which is where they find most of their food.
Laughing Kookaburras are found in southeastern Australia. They range from the coast up into the mountains in Tasmania and Victoria. Their habitat includes the forested regions of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. They can even be found living around Adelaide.
They are around 41 to 46 centimeters long with a wingspan that can reach 61 centimeters. They weigh 440 grams on average although some Laughing Kookaburras have been known to weigh as much as 600 grams. The male is larger than the female, but she tends to be heavier because of her thicker feathers and larger bill.
Laughing Kookaburras are very strong flyers. They are able to fly at speeds of 65 kilometers per hour. They flap their wings slowly and evenly, which is why they are such strong fliers. Most birds flap their wings faster and in a jerky motion. As they flap, they move their wingtips back and forth. The Laughing Kookaburra doesn’t do this, which helps them to conserve energy while flying long distances over the treetops.
Laughing Kookaburras nest in tree hollows that have been abandoned by other birds. The female will lay between two and four eggs that hatch after an incubation period of around two weeks. The young kookaburra will start to leave the nest when they are three to four weeks old. They are able to fly at around 35 weeks.
Australian Giant Cuttlefish
The Australian Giant Cuttlefish, a cephalopod, is one of the largest cuttlefishes in the world. This variety is considered to be endangered and it is unusual for them to be found in New South Wales waters off Sydney. The species can grow up to 150cm long and are dark brown with various white patterns on their skin.
The Australian Giant Cuttlefish can eat small crabs, prawns and fish that live on the seabed or over sand flats. These cephalopods hunt by using their tentacles have numerous suckers covered with a chemical that causes paralysis in prey when it comes into contact with them. The cuttlefish then moves the stunned prey into its shell and breaks it apart with their arms.
When threatened the Giant Cuttlefish will use its camouflage and jet-propulsion to escape. Australian Giant Cuttlefish are known to inhabit depths of 10m along with shellfishes such as Abalone, Crabs, Starfish, sea urchins which they feed upon.
These creatures live in colonies along the East Coast of Australia; these cuttlefish travel alone or in small groups during the breeding season and settle at a depth of about 50 meters to lay eggs on the ocean floor. At night, they hunt for food using their jet propulsion. They are preyed upon by other cephalopods including the Australian Banded Cuttlefish, Blue-headed Cuttlefish and Yellow-banded Cuttlefish.
The Australian Giant Cuttlefish is believed to first appeared around the 1970s and it has been declining at an alarming rate. There is no known cause of this decline. The population of Giant Cuttlefishes off the coast of New South Wales is increasing in size which shows that conservation efforts are working. Efforts could include highlighting the importance of this animal on TV and radio programs as well as public awareness campaigns about its existence.
The red kangaroo is the biggest marsupial in Australia, found mostly in the semi-arid to arid parts of the country. They’re also one of the most agile, jumping up to 30ft (9 metres) in one bound.
This is the biggest of its kind, usually weighing 34-50kg (75-110lb) and reaching up to 2.5m (8ft) tall. They’re also the fastest, reaching speeds of 90kph (55mph) and jumping as high as 3m (10ft).
A large red kangaroo has a lifespan of 8–14 years in the wild, and up to 25 years in captivity. The ‘roo mostly eats grasses, but will also eat shrubs and leaves when grasses are scarce.
They’re found in the Australian states of South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
In Australia’s Central Highlands, red kangaroos are most numerous in the open heathlands of the Isabella Plains and Grevillea Park country. Some are also found in the Mulga Lands.
Red kangaroos are territorial and defend their home ranges against competitors. Males usually patrol the borders of the home range, which they mark with urine and droppings. Females will also protect their young, as long as she’s there.
If a predator threatens the family, red kangaroos will try to hide in dense brush or in the rock crevices that are found on steep slopes. They also flee at high speeds if it’s safe to do so, so they can reach denser terrain where it’s safe from predators such as dingoes and foxes.
The red kangaroo has specialized pouches which serve as temporary home to the offspring. After about 35–40 days, the joey is fully developed and able to hop out of the pouch. It will then stay close to mum for another five months while it continues to suckle milk.
The babies use their tail as a fifth limb so they can stand upright, and they can already move around using their hind legs even before they’re born. They also have soft fur and hard scales on their feet, which protect them from sharp rocks in the wilderness. Plus, both male and female kangaroos have pouches in which they carry their young.
The Australian law protects them, and some populations live on government-owned land. But they’re still endangered due to habitat loss and predation by invasive species such as dogs, foxes and cats. Fences also limit their movements and threaten their safety by blocking escape routes from wildfires that start on neighboring lands.
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