Australia is home to the most interesting and strangest wildlife in the world, with a huge variety of creatures ranging from marsupials to reptiles. Residents and travellers expect to see kangaroos jumping down the street, koalas dangling from a neighbour’s tree and the odd deadly snake hiding around the next corner. If you’re planning a trip to Australia you would be foolish to miss out seeing some of these incredible animals. Here are some of the best:
Photo by Raquel Peres
Bats in Australia are scarily huge, in fact the largest of these species can weigh up to one kilogram and have a wing span of nearly 5 foot. There are otherwise known as known as flying foxes because they are so much larger than the average bat. They live in large colonies and are one of the smartest of all Australian animals. They may look blood-thirsty but they only feed on fruit, flowers and nectar, sleeping in the day and hunting for food at dusk and during the night. If you come across one just be warned they can carry viruses harmful to humans so don’t get too close!
When people think of Australian animals, the kangaroo is definitely somewhere at the top of the list. Found all over Australia, they are actually the largest marsupials on the planet today. Kangaroos can reach heights ranging between 5 and 6 feet tall, and they can weigh up to 120 pounds. They use their powerful hind legs to hop and their tail to keep their balance. Not only do they travel fast, but they can leap up to 30 feet in one swift jump! Kangaroos mainly feed on grasses and other plants, and they can live in a variety of habitats.
Found in the forests and bush-lands, this is one of the few Australian animals that can actually be kept as an outdoor pet – they aren’t usually afraid of people! The common wombat weighs about 60 pounds and is roughly equivalent to the size of a pig. Wombats have strong claws and legs that they use for burrowing. Because they are diggers, wombats have backward facing pouches to keep their babies protected from pouches full of dirt. They are nocturnal animals, so they usually come out at night to look for food. They mainly eat leaves, plants, and roots.
The largest reptiles on Earth, “salties” are probably the most feared when it comes to Australian animals. Males are much larger than females, and are usually about 14 feet long. Some have even reached lengths of 18 feet. They weigh anywhere from 1200 to 2200 pounds and they are definitely best viewed from a distance! They usually feed on other reptiles, fish, and birds – but have been known to eat animals as large as cattle and buffalo, too. Saltwater crocodiles have lifespans of 60 to 80 years, and these Australian animals are endangered. If you fancy seeing one first hand you’ll have plenty of choice as their range extends from Broome in Western Australia through to the entire Northern Territory coast all the way down to Rockhampton in Queensland.
Found mainly in Tasmania and along the southeastern coast of Australia, these are the biggest carnivorous marsupials at about 3 to 4 feet in length. They are black in color with unusual white markings on their chests that make each one unique. Tasmanian devils are nocturnal, and they usually eat birds, lizards, or scavenge the remains of dead animals they come across. Several Australian animals are considered endangered, and sadly this is one of those species.
Otherwise known as a banded anteater, the numbat bears 6 or 7 white bands across its back giving it this interesting nickname. Numbats are fairly small – about 11 inches long with another 7 inches of tail. Weighing only 1 pound, they use their front feet to dig for termites, and their long tongues to pick them up. They have 52 teeth, each one different in size and shape from the others.
One of the more well-known Australian animals, these wild dogs can be found throughout most of the country. Dingoes are medium in size, and usually weigh between 30 and 55 pounds. They can be sandy blond, reddish brown, tan, black, or a combination of colors. Dingoes are known scavengers, but they regularly feed on rabbits, possums, rodents, lizards, and sometimes even kangaroos. Nowadays dingoes are usually cross-bred – a pure dingo is very hard to find. The large sand island Fraser Island is a great place to see these animals first hand.
When you think of soft and cute, these Australian animals might be the first to come to mind. Koalas usually have gray and white fur and notably large ears. Koalas have very bad eyesight, and depend on their excellent senses of hearing and smell to protect them from predators. They use their strong arms and claws to climb eucalyptus trees in search of the succulent leaves that exclusively make up their diet. Koalas spend most of the day sleeping, and only a few hours are reserved for climbing and eating.
The kookaburra bird is one of the most fascinating Australian animals and it’s known especially for its funny human-like laugh. Kookaburras are usually about 18 inches long, and their markings are quite distinct. Their bodies are a dark brown color on top and white underneath, and their wings have a beautiful smattering of gray and blue spots on them. These native Australian birds can be found in forests and wooded areas – and tree holes are their preferred homes. The people of Australia are grateful to this bird for eliminating many known pests as it primarily feeds on small snakes, lizards, insects, and rodents. Due to its high-pitched laugh-like calls at both sunrise and sunset, the kookaburra is commonly referred to as the “bushman’s clock.”
As you can see, Australia has so much to offer when it comes to unusual wildlife. If a vacation down under is in your future, you won’t want to miss out on the unique animals you will find there. Please see our Top 10 Places to Visit in Australia for great travel tips.
Frank Guzman is a freelance writer and consultant for Expedia, Guzman has had the opportunity to travel to Australia in which he has found the people so accepting, animal life is amazing and the culture is quite astonishing.