Australian Animals


The web-footed egg-laying mammal called the Platypus, is universally 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. 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 in its prey.

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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 striking 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 very threatening hissing sound. The thick, tough skin provides protection against predators and keeps dehydration 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 other oportunistic prey.

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Shingleback 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


Echidnas are the oldest surviving mammal on the planet today. They are found all over Australia, in regions of rainforest and also in arid zones. In other words, they are able to survive extreme temperatures. Echidnas are solitary animals and spend most of the year alone; however, when a female comes into season (usually towards mid to late winter), "trains" of echidnas may be seen for up to a month. A baby echidna (called a ‘puggle’) hatches from an egg by using its egg tooth and pulls its way along the mother’s hair into the pouch area.

The echidna is extremely reliant upon its snout to find its food. It uses its snout to forage through leaf litter, poking the snout into rotting logs and other potential food sites in search of ants and termites. Spines that are both strong and sharp cover its head, back and tail are used mainly for defense.

Along with the platypus, the echidna is the only other egg-laying mammal in the world.

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Litoria splendida is confined to the northwest part of Western Australia and in 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 ward off predators.

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Magnificent Tree Frog


Podargus papuensis, is restricted to north Queensland. It is nocturnal and usually seen alone. 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.

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Papuan Frogmouth


Found only in Australia and one of the most endangered seals in the world, there are estimated to be 10,000-to-12,000 Australian sea lions, Neophoca cinerea. They range from Western Australia to islands in southern Australia. The largest populations are found on Kangaroo Island and near Port Lincoln.

These sea lions are non-migratory, meaning they live and breed on the beaches where they were born. It was heavily hunted for its hide and oil in the 18th and 19th centuries but is now fully protected within Australia. These eared seals are very social mammals and congregate in groups that become larger during the mating season. The male establishes its territory and harem and very aggressively defends them, although he is not at all protective of the pups. Males havebeen observed vicisously attacking pups. The pregnant female comes ashore about three days before giving birth to a single young, and displays "fostering behavior" that she will nurse and protect and sometimes adopt the young of others even if they are not her own.

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Australian Sea Lion


Australia is home to many interesting animals but one of the most bizarre of all is a tiny endangered spiny lizard known as the Thorny Devil, Moloch horridus. It is found in Western Australia and throughout Queensland. It is distinguished by its long, curved spines, dappled with yellow, orange, brown and white markings that help it absorb and retain water through condensation on its body. 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, from 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.

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Thorny Devil


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. It was originally 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. Breeding only occurs when there are adequate resources, and mating itself may not occur at all during periods of severe draught. Juveniles remain with the mother for approximately a year and are very vulnerable to predation during its first three years of life, yet they can live up to 15 years of age in the wild.

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Hairy-nosed Wombat



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Unique Australian Animals



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