A Conservation Collection
Select Animals & Birds of Australia with Species Information
|Nothing symbolizes Australia more than the beloved Kangaroo, Macropus rufus. This is a young Red Kangaroo from the Yookamurra Sanctuary in South Australia. It is Australia's largest living and most prolific marsuplial of the nearly 60 species in the kangaroo family, and it dwells in Australia's Red Center -- the arid portion of Australia. The availability of food influences their distribution; they occupy mixed habitats of open shrub lands, grasslands, mallee scrubs, mulga country, and desert and they are exclusively plant-eaters with a preferred diet of grasses and flowering plants. The Red Roo is approximately 5 feet long and has a tail that is about 42 inches long. They can't walk and are limited to hopping as a means of locomotion. For short periods they can attain a speed of 35 mph. Their posture is upright except when feeding.|
|The Emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae, is Australia's largest bird. It has been resident in Australia for at least 80 million years. It large and flightless and part of the Ratite family of birds that also includes the ostrich, cassowary and the kiwi. It is much larger than an ostrich -- they eat almost anything including dingoes (Australia's wild dog). They are shy but curious and are very quick runners (up to 50km/hr), running with a bouncy, swaying motion. The Emu can weigh up to 150 pounds and stands about 5 feet tall. It can't fly because it wings are only about 6 inches long! It lives in Australia's rugged regions such as the dry plains, scrublands, open woodlands and cold mountainous snow country. It avoids dense forests and is not generally found in populated areas.|
|The Frilled Lizard, Chlamydosaurus kingii, is one of Australia's most distinctive and 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 branch. It is erected when the lizard is confronted by a potential aggressor, and the act of gaping the mouth (also part of its display) extends 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 oftentimes accompanied by hissing, standing up on its hind legs, and leaping at or chasing the predator. If the 'bluffing' doesn't work the lizard flees.|
|The very large and spectacular White-lipped Tree Frog grows to 135mm and is the world's largest tree frog. L. infrafrenata is confined in Australia to Cape York Peninsula and the wet tropics of northeast Queensland, the Gulf of Carpenteria, to the whole of New Guinea, and parts of eastern Indonesia. It has a conspicuous white stripe around the lower jaw continuing back to the shoulder, as well as white stripes on the trailing edges of the lower leg. Its fingers and toes have large discs and are webbed. It has a loud, harsh, double-noted call 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. They hunt on humid evenings.|
|The Tawny Frogmouth, Podargus strigoides, is found Australia-wide. It's Aboriginal (Kunwinjku) name is Djurrurl, meaning 'feathers on the nose.' With their nocturnal habit and owl-like appearance, Tawny Frogmouths are often confused with owls but they are actually more closely related to the nightjars. Their feet are weak, however, and lack the curved talons of owls. They are marvelously good at pretending to be bits of dead tree. The body length ranges from 35-55 cm. Their voice is a resonant, low, pulsing oom-oom-oom-oom that is difficult to locate. It is sedentary, occupying the same territory sometimes for years. At night it watches from a low perch for prey on the ground. The bulk of its diet is made of up nocturnal insects, worms, slugs and snails, although they also eat small mammals and reptiles and birds.|
|The Satin Bowerbird, Ptilonorhynchus violaceus, of Australia is so-named because of the intricate bower structures built by the males. These 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 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 human-manufactured objects such as 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 which includes extending the wings and running around accompanied by a loud buzzing or wheezing vocalization.|
The Dingo, Canis lupis dingo, is a primitive canine that evolved from a wolf. The Dingo cannot be reliably distinguished on any external characteristics. It differs from the domestic dog in that the Dingo breeds only once a year and it seldom barks. And it also has far better survival skills than any domestic dog would ever have. Most closely related to the semi-domestic dog of South-east Asia, it arrived in Australia about 4000 years ago. It is often ginger-colored with white points to the ears and tail but it can be black as well. It hunts in packs for large prey, 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 pastoral areas. The longest fence in the world is a monument to that, although it has not worked.
|Along with the kangaroos, the web-footed, egg-laying mammal called the Platypus, is totally identified with Australia. It is a warm-blooded animal that suckles it young, has fur, but also has a bill like a duck and it lays eggs. It's latin name (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) means 'birdlike snout.' It is roughly half the size of an average household cat. It is seldom seen except when resting at the water surface. The flattened tail of the platypus is mainly made up of a fatty tissue that is used to store energy supplies that the animal can use when there is a shortage of food, such as in winter months. It has a covering of dense waterproof fur all over its body except for its feet and bill. Males do not help to raise the young. It is the only Australian mammal known to be venomous -- the venom triggers severe pain and can result in quite spectacular localized swelling.|
|The Shingleback Lizard, Tiligua rugosus, is a distinctive member of the lizard family known as skinks. Its two most striking features are the short rounded tail, which bears a remarkable resemblance to the head end to confuse predators; and huge (protective) scales covering the body giving it a rough and bumpy appearance. When threatened, it bends its body into a semicircle, opens the mouth widely, extends tits dark blue tongue, and emits a threatening hissing sound. The thick, tough skin provides great protection against predators and keeps water loss to a minimum in the harsh, arid climate of southern Australia. It will continue to pair up with the same partner every spring for 20 or more years. Slow moving, it feeds on insects, carrion, and begetable matter.|
|Echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) -- or spiny ant eaters as they are sometimes called -- are familiar to most Australians. Solitary Echidnas are monotremes (mammals that lay eggs). There are only three species of monotreme in the world; the platypus and two species of echidna, one of which is restricted to the New Guinea highlands. It is recognized by a covering of spines and a tubular snout which has a long, mobile tongue used to lap up ants that is exposes from their nest with powerfully clawed forelimbs. When disturbed, the Echidna curls into a ball of radiating spines, or it may dig itself in soil with surprising speed. A single egg is incubated for about 10 days in a pouch on the mother's abdomen. Predators include eagles and Tasmanian Devils which even eat the spines. Now wholly protected, they were once a favorite food of Aboriginals and early white settlers.|
|The Magnificent Tree Frog, Litoria splendida, is confined to the northwest part of Western Australia and the adjacent margin of the Northern Territory, It is a large and handsome species of tree frog characterized by a large gland on the entire dorsal surface of the head. Its head and body are green and bear small, scattered sulphur-colored patches. The fingers and toes have large discs, and the toes are webbed. The call is a series of deep barks. Frogs are amphibians, and vertebrates, and they are dependent on outside temperature for their body heat -- meaning, they are cold-blooded. A variety of glands in their soft skin keep the skin moist. Their secretions are toxic to deter predators.|
The Papuan Frogmouth, Podargus papuensis, is restricted to north Queensland. It is nocturnal and usually seen singly. In a roost they are very difficult to spot unless you know exactly where to look. The Papuan is larger than the Tawny Frogmouth and has red eyes, and its roosting places are often denser. As with all Frogmouths they have a bristly feathered tuft over its bill and an extremely long tongue that is forked. It produces 1 or 2 variable white eggs, but mostly just one, and both parents help out with all the parental duties. They have large eyes, giving them good night vision, and wide gaping bills for feeding on insects. It secretes a substance in its mouth that attracts flies so that it does not have to fly with its mouth open to catch insects like some of its relatives. It just sits on a branch with its huge mouth open and flies enter on their own accord.
|Two species of Lyrebird are found in Australia, the most common being the Superb Lyrebird, Menura novaehollandiae. When seen they are normally just a blur as they run and dodge rapidly through the dense forest underbrush. They are remarkably competent mimics, able to imitate most of the calls of the other species in their locality, even some sounds produced by humans. Although they seldom fly they roost in low trees at night. One of the great exhibitions 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 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.|
|Found only in Australia and one of the most endangered pinnipeds in the world, there are estimated to be 10,000-to-12,000 Australian sea lions, Neophoca cinerea, between the Pages Islands in South Australia and Houtman Abrolhos off the Western Australian coast. The species mostly inhabits islands. It was heavily hunted for its hide and oil in the 18th and 19th centuries and is now listed as RARE in South Australia with SPECIAL PROTECTED SPECIES status in Western Australia. These eared seals are very social mammals and congregate in groups that become larger during the mating season. They are opportunistic feeders taking a wide variety of prey, particularly squid, octopus, scale fish and some crustaceans. The pregnant female comes ashore about three days before giving birth to a single young. The male establishes its territory and harem and very aggressively defends them.|
|Australia is home to many magnificent animals but one of the most bizarre of all is a tiny spiny lizard known as the Thorny Devil, or mountain devil. It latin name is Moloch horridus. It is distinguished by its long, curved spines, attractively dappled with yellow, orange, brown and white markings. Despite its appearance, it is tiny (approximately 9 cm in length) and quite harmless. It feeds only on small black ants, sitting by an ant trail and eating them as they run past. They can change color rapidly -- a pale yellow and red when warm and active, and when alarmed or cold they are dark olive. These slow-moving, placid lizards rely mainly on camouflage and their spines for their defense.Three to ten eggs are laid in late spring or early summer in a shallow, slanting burrow.|
|The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat, Lasiorhinus latifrons, is a marsupial mammal indigenous to Australia and totally protected in South Australia. It is well-adapted to arid conditions, spending the day in a deep burrow in a communal warren that is home to five to ten individuals. At night it emerges to feed on grasses, herbs, roots, bark and fungi. All wombats are diggers as is suggested by their powerful front limbs. It is mainly nocturnal. The female has two teats in a large, backwardly directed pouch but it is usual only for one young to be reared, remaining in the pouch until about nine months of age. Before being protected by law, it was often hunted for the value of its fur pelt. Its biggest threats are from being hit by cars, and by the clearing of land for agriculture, as well as by predation from the Dingo and the Wedge-tail eagle.|
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