Australian Animals


Nothing symbolizes Australia more than the beloved Kangaroo. The one pictured here is a young Red Kangaroo, Macropus rufus. The adult Red Roo is approximately 5 feet tall and has a 42- inch long tail. They are limited to hopping as a means of locomotion but they can reach speeds of 35 mph and cover an expanse of 25 ft (or 8 meters) in a single leap. A group is referred to as a "Mob." The Red is not only the largest of all kangaroos, it is the largest of the world's marsupials.

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Red Kangaroo


Dromaius novaehollandiae, is Australia's largest bird. It is flightless, and part of the Ratite family of birds that also includes the ostrich, cassowary and the kiwi. They eat almost anything including dingoes (Australia's wild dog). They are shy but curious and run quickly (up to 50km/hr) with a bouncy, swaying motion. The Emu can weigh up to 150 pounds and stands about 5 feet tall.

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The Frilled Lizard, Chlamydosaurus kingii, is one of Australia's most familiar dragon lizards. It is a large lizard, averaging 33 inches in length. Normally the neck is folded back along the body, making this lizard difficult to see when it is lying on a tree limb. The neck is erected when the lizard is confronted by a potential aggressor, and the act of gaping the mouth (another part of its display) opens the frill. The frill contains long rod-like bones that connect with the jaw and tongue, so that the wider the mouth is opened the more extended the frill becomes. This is often accompanied by hissing, standing up on its hind legs, and leaping at or chasing its predator. If the 'bluffing' doesn't work the lizard turns and flees.

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Frilled Lizard


The White-lipped Tree Frog, L. infrafrenata, is the world's largest tree frog. It is typically found in Australia's Cape York Peninsula and the wet tropics of northeast Queensland. It has a notable white stripe around the lower jaw continuing back to the shoulder, as well as white stripes on the trailing edges of iats lower leg. Its fingers and toes have large discs and are webbed. It's call is loud and harsh, resembling the barking of a large dog. In their natural habitat they help control the insect population, as their main prey consists of a wide variety of insects such as crickets, mealworms, fruit flies, beetles, caterpillars, spiders and worms.

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White-lipped Tree Frog


The illusive Tawny Frogmouth, Podargus strigoides, is found Australia-wide. It's Aboriginal (Kunwinjku) name is Djurrurl, which means 'feathers on the nose.' Because of their nocturnal habit and owl-like appearance, Tawny Frogmouths are often confused with owls but their feet lack the strength of the curved talons of owls. They are excellent at pretending to be bits of dead tree, so they are consequently hard to see or find. It is sedentary, occupying the same territory sometimes for years. Its diet includes nocturnal insects, worms, slugs and snails, although they also eat small mammals, reptiles and even birds. Tawny Frogmouth pairs stay together until one of the pair dies.

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Tawny Frogmouth


Ptilonorhynchus violaceus, is so-named because of the intricate bowers built by the males. These bowers are not nests but rather display arenas to attract females. Every adult male clears a circular area on the rainforest floor and builds a bower of twigs on a north-south axis. He then decorates his bower with yellow and blue objects that he collects from his environment -- bright blue is a favorite color -- and these objects range from flowers and berries to snail shells and parrot feathers, and may even include found objects like pen caps and toys. Females tour the bowers during mating season, sizing up the studs by their architectural prowess and by their dramatic display of feather-puffing. This feather-puffing includes extending the wings and running around accompanied by a loud buzzing or wheezing vocalization.

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Satin Bowerbird


Canis lupis dingo is a wild canine that evolved from a wolf. It differs from the domestic dog in that the Dingo breeds only once a year and, also, it seldom barks. It also has far better survival skills than any domesticated dog would ever have. It arrived in Australia about 4000 years ago. It is typically ginger-colored with white points to the ears and tail but it can be black in coloration as well. It hunts in packs for large prey, or singly when feeding on small animals. It is being exterminated across Australia at great peril to local ecosystems by pastoralists with support from the government to kill or exclude them from their threatened pastoral areas. The 6,000-mile long fence in the world is a monument to that, although it has not worked very well.

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Two species of Lyrebird arSe found in Australia, the Superb Lyrebird, Menura novaehollandiae being the most common one. When seen they are normally just a blur as they run and dodge rapidly through the dense forest underbrush. They are competent mimics, able to imitate most of the calls of the other species in their locality, including some sounds produced by humans. Although they seldom fly, they are speed demons and they roost in low trees at night. One of the great dramas of the Australian forest is the courtship display of the male Superb Lyrebird. First he builds a small dirt mound upon which he stands so he is better able to be seen and heard. Then he spreads his magnificant tail feathers up and over his head into a Lyre shape, then sings to his intended; his own songs as well as other bird sounds and noises. As he sings he moves about (or dances) to attract the female's attention. Nest-building, incubating the eggs and rearing the young are, however, performed entirely by the female.

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Superb Lyrebird



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