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Australian animals you should know about

There are so many interesting animals in Australia! Four out of five animals that live in Australia only can be found there. 

Australia is a megadiverse country and is home to an extraordinarily high amount of plant and animal species.

Animals in Australia: 15 Australian animals you should know

Among the endemic animal species — species that can only be found in Australia — are the monotremes, which are mammals that lay eggs! The platypus and two species of echidna are the world’s only egg-laying mammals, so called monotremes. 

Australia has almost 400 mammal species and about 140 species of marsupials. A marsupial is an animal that carries the young in her pouch.

Half of the birds that live in Australia, can only be found there. Among the typical Australian bird species are the kookaburra, the emu and the rainbow lorikeet, an especially colourful parrot which has a red beak and a multicolour plumage.

Rainbow lorikeetRainbow Lorikeet

15 Animals in Australia you should know about


Koalas are marsupials. This means that they are mammals that carry their young in a pouch. They look like cute bears but koalas are definitely not bears! 

Koala - typical Australian animalKoala mum with baby

Koalas live in eucalypt forests along the eastern coastline of Australia. They are fragile animals but grow up to 80 cm/ 2.2 ft in height and weigh only about 14 kg/ 31 lbs. Baby koalas are called ‘joeys’ and hide in their mothers’ pouch for the first six months. Koalas eat lots of eucalyptus leaves (1 kg/ 2.2 lbs per day) and sleep up to 20 hours!

Dingo | Animals in Australia

Dingos are the biggest carnivorous mammals in Australia. Carnivorous means meat-eating. They can be found all over Australia except for Tasmania although they mainly live in the country’s outback. A dingo looks similar to a domestic dog, but has a longer muzzle, larger pointed ears and sharper teeth. It has a brown furry coat and bushy tail. 

Australian dingoDingo

Dingos are wild dogs that feed mainly on small animals. Dingos stay alone, but during mating season the dingo is known to mingle with other wild dogs and to hunt in packs of three to twelve animals. 


There are about 50 million kangaroos living in Australia, that means there are many more kangaroos than people living in Australia! There are 55 different species of kangaroos. 

Kangaroo and babyKangaroo with joey

Wallabies are usually smaller than kangaroos but kangaroos come in all sizes. Some weigh only little and are tiny, others weigh up to 90 kg/ 198 lbs. In many rural areas, kangaroos roam in the bushland. One of the best places to experience kangaroos is Pebbly Beach, a four-hour-drive south of Sydney.


The platypus is one of the monotremes. The egg-lying animal lives along the river banks in burrows. The platypus has a brown furry body and webbed feet. With a bill like a duck as well as a tail like a beaver it looks truly unique. A platypus can grow up to 60 cm/ 2 ft in length. 

Swimming platypusPlatypus

Platypus are very shy animals and quickly hide underwater if approached. If they are attacked and cannot flee, however, they inject venom through spurs in their hind legs. The venom is so strong it can kill a dog!

Australia Animals | Echidna

Animals in Australia: The echidna is also a monotreme which only grows up to 40 — 50 cm/ 1.4 ft in length and weighs about 5 — 6 kg/ 11 — 13 lbs. 

Echidna: animals in AustraliaEchidna

The echidna has spines on the body, which thus is covered with a prickly coat similar to a porcupine or a hedgehog. The monotreme has a long sticky tongue and eats mainly insects. When frightened, the echidna rolls into a small ball to protect itself.

Tasmanian Devil

The Tasmanian devil is an endangered animal and can only be encountered in the wild on the island of Tasmania off the southern coast of Australia. The Tasmanian devil is a marsupial and carries its young in its pouch.

Tasmanian devils are marsupials and carry up to four young. The young live in the pouch for up to four month. 

Animals in Australia: Tasmanian DevilTasmanian Devil

The black coated animal is as tall as a small dog, but very shy and the Tasmanian devil is nocturnal. Nocturnal means the animal is active during the night. Tasmanian devils are the largest carnivorous marsupials and have powerful jaws and teeth.

Animals in Australia

This bird is the world’s largest kingfisher bird and grows up to 46 cm/ 18 inches from beak to tail! The kookaburra is known for its chuckling voice which sounds like human laughter. Laughing kookaburras can be easily heard and thus easily be spotted. Click to listen to the kookaburra’s call here.

Kookaburra sits on an old gum tree...Kookaburra


Another one of the native animals to Australia is the wombat. This burrowing animal can get really heavy and can weigh up to 36 kg/ 80 lbs. This is as much as a 10-year-old child weighs! 

Wombat held by a park attendant - image by Benny MartyWombat

Wombats can quite commonly be spotted in the Blue Mountains National Park near Sydney. Wombats feed on grasses, tips of shrubs and bushes. 

Animals in Australia: Emu

The emu is the tallest bird in Australia. It reaches up to 2 m/ 6.5 ft in hight and can run really fast, with speeds up to 50 kmh/ 31 mph. However, emus cannot fly, just like an ostrich. Emus have a varied diet: they feed on grasses and leaves, fruits and insects. 

Emu in Pinnacle Desert - Numbung National Park in Australia - image by Neale CouslandEmu in Pinnacle Desert/Numbung National Park

The emus are flightless birds that defend themselves with strong powerful kicks. Their name comes from the Portuguese word ‘ema’ which means large bird.


The cassowary is the heaviest flightless bird in Australia. A cassowary has black feathers on the body, but the neck and face is colourful. Cassowaries have a very low frequency call which almost cannot be heard by humans. 

Northern Cassowary - image by San Diego ZooCassowary

The cassowary has a casque, a sponge-like helmet which is covered with keratin. Keratin is the material our fingernails are made of. The cassowary is the most dangerous bird in the world as it has the most powerful kick. The foot has three toes with a dagger-like claw. The cassowary can run and swim very fast, so it easily can escape any dangerous situations.

Sydney Funnel-Web Spider

Animals in Australia: The Sydney funnel-web spider is the world’s deadliest spider. The funnel-web spider injects a deadly venom whenever it bites and death occurs within an hour. However, an anti-venom has been developed and for more than 30 years there has been no fatality.

Australians are very aware of the danger of being bitten by a funnel-web spider, so they take precautions when hiking in the bushland or working in the garden. 

Sydney Funnel-web spider - image by Australian Reptile ParkFunnel web spider

The big black spiders are hairless and the spider web looks like a massive funnel — therefore it is hard to miss! The webs can be spotted between logs and rocks along the Sydney coastline. 

Australian Box Jellyfish

The Australian box jellyfish is the most venomous marine animal. The jellyfish with a box-like shape has long tentacles that inject poison when touched. The dangerous tentacles are up to 3 m/ 10 ft long. 

Australian box jellyfish - image by NOAAAustralian box jellyfish

These jellyfish can swim in contrary to most other jellyfish that can only float. So make sure to stay out of the water if there are warning signs during jellyfish season in summer.

Animals in Australia

Crocodile Dundee told us about them in his adventures and we all know that there are crocodiles in Australia.

Two crocodile species can be found on the Australian continent. The freshwater crocodile which only can be found in Australia and the saltwater or estuarine crocodile. Both can actually live in freshwater and saltwater. The saltwater crocodiles are the world’s largest reptiles. Salties, as saltwater crocodiles are referred to by many Australians, grow up to 6 m/ 20 ft long and weigh up to one tonne. 

Saltwater crocodile in Kakadu National ParkSaltwater crocodile in Kakadu National Park

When waiting for prey, crocodiles can remain completely motionless for as long as an hour. When hunting, they lie either half-submerged in water or hide underwater. They can hold their breath for about one hour and have transparent eyelids, so they can see their prey even when underwater.

Great White Shark

Along Australia’s coastline there are about 5,500 great white sharks. Great white sharks are not the largest shark species in the world, but certainly impressive. They can become massive, up to 7 m/ 23 ft in length — this is almost half the length of a basketball court!

Once a shark is fully fed, it can live without food for three month without any further meal. 

Great White SharkGreat White Shark

Sharks follow the vibrations in water when sourcing for prey. They have a very good sense of smell and can also detect the scent of blood from about 4.8 km/ 3 miles away. 

Animals in Australia
Australian Coastal Taipan

Some of the world’s most venomous snakes such as the coastal taipan can be found in Australia. Other dangerous Australian snakes are the inland taipan and the tiger snake. 

Australian coastal taipanAustralian coastal taipan

The coastal taipan grows up to 4 m/ 13 ft in length. However, don’t worry too much about encountering snakes in the wild. Snakes like to be left alone and they usually only attack when feeling threatened.  

Did you know…?

Animals in Australia: Less people die every year from snake bites or shark attacks in Australia than from bee stings!

Correction: Many Thanks to Kristen Robinson from Australia!

There are no poisonous snakes in Australia. Australian snakes are known for their dangerous bites and they hardly ever spit (such as African cobras!). Australian snakes are thus venomous.

Venomous: If you get bitten or stung, then this is venom. 

Poisonous: If you eat, like, swallow, inhale or absorb a dangerous substance through your skin, this is poison. If u can die when you touch it, the object is poisonous (such as a poison dart frog) 

Resource: Stephanie Root. «Venomous versus poisonous.»  US National Park Service. 18 July 2018. Last accessed 28 February 2023

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Resources | Animals in Australia

  • Australian Koala Foundation. «Interesting Facts About Koalas». SaveTheKoala. Last accessed 28 February 2023
  • New South Wales Government. «Platypus and other native animals in Australia». NSW Government. Last accessed 28 February 2023
  • Wildlife Alliance. «The Cassowary». San Diego Zoo. Last accessed 28 February 2023
  • Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife. «Tasmanian Devil». ParksTasmania. Last accessed 28 February 2023
  • Shannon Verhagen. «World’s Deadliest Spider: The Funnel Web.» Australian Geographic. 13 February 2017. Last accessed 28 February 2023
  • Gemma Chilton. «Welcome to Croc Country.» Australia Geographic. 29 March 2016. Last accessed 28 February 2023
  • National Ocean Service. «Australian Box Jellyfish».  NOAA. Last accessed 28 February 2023
  • Allie Metz. «Guide to Australia’s Animals». Tourism Australia. Last accessed 28 February 2023

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The sugar glider is one of Australia's unique animals.

The sugar glider is one of Australia’s unique animals.

Due to its unique climatic and geological conditions, Australia is known for its distinctive creatures. Although kangaroos, spiders and poisonous snakes are common animals that come to mind when thinking about Australian wildlife, there are many other animals that are native to the country. Here are 16 amazing animals that can be found in Australia.

16. Box jellyfish

Box jellyfish are commonly identified by their cubed-shaped medusa. There are 51 known species of box jellyfish but only a few species have been described. Their medusas are in the square shape, box-like bell, with short pendulum hanging from each of the four corners. The rims of the bells are folded inwards to create shelves known as velarium. The box jellyfish is a dangerous species whose sting is extremely painful and can be fatal. These creatures are common in tropical oceans around the north of Bundaberg, Exmouth in Western Australia, and the coast of the Northern Territory.

15. Kangaroo

Perhaps the most iconic Australian animal, Kangaroos are marsupials that are indigenous to the country. According to the Australian government, there are approximately 34 million kangaroos in the country. The largest species is the red kangaroo which stands over 6 feet tall. Other notable types include antilopine kangaroo, western gray kangaroo, and eastern gray kangaroo. Kangaroos have powerful hind legs with large feet that are adapted to limping. Their tails are long and muscular and are mainly used for balancing. The female species have pouches that are mainly used to carry young ones. Kangaroos are common in most national parks across Australia as well as along the roads in most cities.

14. Kookaburra

Kookaburra is a terrestrial tree kingfisher native to New Guinea and Australia. Its name originated from the Wiradjuri language in reference to the call it makes. There are four species of kookaburra found in Australia; Rufous-bellied, spangled, blue-winged, and laughing kookaburras (its loud call is commonly used as stock sound effect). These species can grow up to 11-17 inches long and are exclusively carnivores, feeding on snakes, mice, small reptiles, and insects. These birds are territorial and can be found in a wide range of habitat, from arid savannah to humid forest and urban areas with tall trees. Although they are kingfishers, Kookaburras are not closely associated with water.

13. Platypus

The egg-laying platypus is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to eastern Australia, particularly Tasmania. It is one of the five living species of monotremes. Like other monotremes, platypus use electrosensors to locate its prey. It is one of the few examples of venomous mammals as its hind feet have spurs that are used to deliver venom. The platypus has an unusual appearance including a duck-like bill, beaver-tail, and otter-like feet, making it an important study in evolutionary biology. It mainly inhabits small rivers and streams and can survive in captivity for up to 17 years. Its major predators include snakes, owls, and hawks.

12. Bandicoot

Bandicoots are terrestrial marsupial omnivores endemic to the Australia-New Guinea region. There are about 20 species of bandicoots of different sizes and characteristics. They are a marsupial. The species are on average 12-31 inches long, including a 4-12 inch-long sparsely hairy tail. The body is covered in coarse fur and the hind limbs are longer than the front. It has sharp and slender teeth. Bandicoots are largely nocturnal animals and are considered a pest by most farmers.

11. Emu

The emu is the second-largest bird by height after the ostrich. It is the largest bird in Australia and the only living member of the genus Dromaius. The bird is mainly found on the mainland but its range also includes Kangaroo Island, Tasmania, and King Island. Emus are covered by soft brown feathers and have long necks and legs. These birds are flightless but can travel a great distance and only sprint when necessary. Their diet consists of a variety of plants and insects but can go for weeks without eating. The female bird can lay several clutches of eggs in a season but it is the male who incubates them.

10. Dingo

The dingo resembles a wild dog but has a few differentiating body features. The origin of these dog-like animals has been a subject of debate for a while, with some sources indicating that they migrated from central Asia about 18,000 years ago. The dingo has a lean, hardy body with the head as the widest part of the body. It is agile and has highly flexible joints, making it easy to rotate its neck 180 degrees. Dingos can be found in the wild in Australia, especially on Fraser Island.

9. Sugar glider

The sugar glider is a species of gliding possum that has striking similarities to the flying squirrel, the most prominent being its ability to glide through the air. The animal has membranes called «potagiums» which extend from the first toe of its hind limbs to the last toe of its forelimbs. The membranes aid the possum in gliding between trees. Commonly found in eucalyptus forests in Eastern Australia, the sugar gliders vary in size and belong to a different group of arboreal marsupials.

8. Echidna

Echidnas are egg-laying monotremes that descended from a platypus-like monotreme over 20 million years ago. The name “Echidna” is derived from a creature in Greek mythology that was half-snake and half-woman as the animal was perceived to have qualities of both reptiles and mammals. Their bodies are covered in coarse hair and spines and are normally brown or black. Echidnas have short, strong limbs with claws used for digging. They have tiny mouths and mainly feed on termites and ants. Echidnas are one of Australia’s most widespread native animals and can live anywhere from deserts to snow-covered mountains.

7. Koala

Koalas are arboreal marsupials and the only living member of the family Phascolarctidae. They are found in the coastal areas of mainland Australia’s southern and eastern regions including New South Wales, Southern Australia, Queensland, and Victoria. These species are easily recognizable by their stouts, large head with round fluffy ears and spoon-shaped nose. Their bodies are approxiately 24-33 inches long and weigh about 9-33 pounds. Their fur range from chocolate brown to silver gray. Koalas are mainly herbivores with their diet consisting mainly of eucalyptus leaves. They spend most of their day sleeping to preserve body energy.

6. Tasmanian Devil

When early European settlers came to Tasmania, they came across a frightening creature with a loud-pierced growl and high-peached screams. The animal had red ears and wide jaws lined with sharp teeth that could only be compared to the devil. The settlers decided to call the animal “Tasmanian devil.” The animal resembles both a small dog and a bear and has a coarse dark fur. Tasmanian devil is the largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and mainly feed on small animals such as wombats and wallabies. The creatures can be found in wildlife parks and Tasmanian Devil Unzoo.

5. Wallaby

Wallabies closely resemble kangaroos but are much smaller. However, the two belong to the same taxonomic family. The term wallaby is used to refer to any macropod smaller than a kangaroo. There are 30 known species of wallabies including the red-necked wallaby and agile wallaby. These animals can grow to a length of 18-41 inches. The tail is approximately long, reaching a length of 30 inches. Wallabies are grouped by habitat, with some species living in the bush while others preferring rocky areas. They mainly feed on plants and grass.

4. Thorny devil

The thorny dragon, also known as the thorny devil is the only species of devil lizard in Australia. The species can grow up to 8.3 inches in length from the head to the tip of the tail. The males are slightly smaller than the female. Their bodies are colored in camouflaging shades of tan and desert brown. However, the colors may change from pale to darker colors during warm weather. The body is covered entirely with uncalcified conical spines. In Australia, thorny dragons are found in deserts and scrublands that cover most of the central parts of the country.

3. Cassowary

The cassowary is a flightless bird (ratite) native to the tropical forests of northeastern Australia, New Guinea, and some parts of Indonesia. There are three living species but only the Southern cassowary is found in Australia. The other species are Dwarf cassowary and the Northern cassowary. The southern cassowary is the third tallest bird (only ostrich and emu are taller) and the 2nd heaviest living bird in the world. Physically, the female is larger and brighter than the male and can reach a height of about 6.6 feet and a weight of 130 pounds. Cassowary’s diet consists of mainly fruits while some can feed on small invertebrates.

2. Wombat

Wombats are stout, muscular marsupials native to Australia. They can grow to about 40 inches long and weigh up to 77 pounds. They have a stubby tail and short legs. Wombats also possess pouches where they nature their young ones. However, the pouch faces backward towards the ears to prevent soil from entering into it as the animal burrows. There are three living species of wombat, all of which are found in Australia. Their range includes mountainous, forested, and heathlands of southeastern Asia.

1. Quokka

The quokka is a small macropod almost the size of a domestic cat. The animal is mainly found in the smaller islands off the coast of Western Australia, especially Rottnest Island where their population is approximately 8,000-12,000. Quokkas weigh 5.5-11 pounds and are 16-21 inches long with a 9.8-11.8 inch tail. The hind legs are stocky and well-developed, the ears are round, and the head is short and broad. Like most macropods, quokkas are herbivores, feeding on any type of vegetation, including leaves and grass.

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Why are there so many extraordinary animals, birds, and plants in Australia? Until recently, it was not easy for people or animals to reach this two-country, so nothing changed quickly there. Many Australian animals are not found in any other country, and the same is true of many birds and plants.

The kangaroo is one Australian animal that everybody knows. The biggest of the fifty different kinds is the red kangaroo. They have big strong back legs and tails, and an adult can be 2.4 metres high. They can jump more than 4 metres and travel at 70 kilometres an hour. Kangaroos eat grass and leaves and live in groups of about twelve.

Everyone loves the sleepy grey koalas. Like kangaroos, they have a pouch on their fronts for their babies; after six months here, a baby koala rides on its mother’s back. They live in eucalyptus trees, sleeping for eighteen hours and eating 1 kilo of leaves each day, but they drink almost nothing.

In the seas and rivers of northern Australia, you can find crocodiles that are 5 or 6 metres long. They eat fish, animals, kangaroos — and sometimes people. Finally, two very strange animals — the echidna and the platypus. Their babies are born from eggs but drink milk from their mothers; no other animals in the world do this. The echidna catches its food with its long fast tongue. The platypus has a wide flat tail. It swims well, but it can only stay underwater for a few minutes, and it shuts its eyes and ears first. 

There are more than 800 kinds of bird in Australia. The emu, which is 2 metres tall, is the second-largest bird in the world; only the ostrich is bigger. It cannot fly at all, but it can run at 50 kilometres an hour. Then there is the kookaburra, whose cry sounds like someone laughing, and the budgerigar, a little blue or yellow bird that people keep in their homes all over the world.


Почему в Австралии так много необычных животных, птиц и растений? До недавнего времени людям или животным было нелегко добраться до этом страны, поэтому там ничего не изменилось. Многие австралийские животные не были найдены ни в одной другой стране, и то же самое касается многих птиц и растений.

Кенгуру — австралийское животное, которое знают все. Самый большой из пятидесяти видов — красный кенгуру. У них большие сильные задние ноги и хвосты, которые у взрослых особей может достигать 2,4 метра. Они могут прыгать в длину более 4 метров и передвигаться со скоростью 70 километров в час. Кенгуру едят траву и листья и живут группами по двенадцать особей.

Все любят сонных серых коал. Как кенгуру, у них есть мешочек для детенышей. Целых шесть месяцев коала катается на спине матери. Они живут на эвкалиптовых деревьях, спят восемнадцать часов и съедают по 1 кг листьев каждый день, но почти ничего не пьют.

В морях и реках северной Австралии вы можете найти крокодилов длиной 5 или 6 метров. Они едят рыбу, животных, кенгуру — а иногда и людей. Наконец, два очень странных животных — ехидна и утконос. Их дети рождаются из яиц, но пьют молоко от своих матерей; никакие другие животные в мире не делают этого. Ехидна ловит пищу своим длинным быстрым языком. Утканос имеет широкий плоский хвост. Он хорошо плавает, но может оставаться под водой лишь несколько минут и сначала закрывает глаза и уши. 

ВАвстралии более 800 видов птиц. Эму высотой 2 метра является второй по величине птицей в мире; больше только страус. Он не может летать вообще, но может бегать со скоростью 50 километров в час. В Австралии живет кукабурра, крик, которого звучит как кто-то смеющийся, и волнистый попугайчик, маленькая синяя или желтая птица, которую люди держат в своих домах по всему миру.

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The red kangaroo is the largest extant macropod and is one of Australia’s heraldic animals, appearing with the emu on the coat of arms of Australia.[1]

The fauna of Australia consists of a large variety of animals; some 46% of birds, 69% of mammals, 94% of amphibians, and 93% of reptiles that inhabit the continent are endemic to it.[2]: 4  This high level of endemism can be attributed to the continent’s long geographic isolation, tectonic stability, and the effects of a unique pattern of climate change on the soil and flora over geological time. A unique feature of Australia’s fauna is the relative scarcity of native placental mammals. Consequently, the marsupials – a group of mammals that raise their young in a pouch, including the macropods, possums and dasyuromorphs – occupy many of the ecological niches placental animals occupy elsewhere in the world. Australia is home to two of the five known extant species of monotremes and has numerous venomous species, which include the platypus, spiders, scorpions, octopus, jellyfish, molluscs, stonefish, and stingrays. Uniquely, Australia has more venomous than non-venomous species of snakes.

The settlement of Australia by Indigenous Australians between 48,000 and 70,000 years ago[3][4] and by Europeans from 1788, has significantly affected the fauna. Hunting, the introduction of non-native species, and land-management practices involving the modification or destruction of habitats have led to numerous extinctions.[2]: 8–9  Based on the list of Australian animals extinct in the Holocene, about 33 mammals (27 from the mainland, including the thylacine), 24 birds (three from the mainland), one reptile, and three frog species or subspecies are strongly believed to have become extinct in Australia during the Holocene epoch. These figures exclude dubious taxa like the Roper River scrub robin (Drymodes superciliaris colcloughi) and possibly extinct taxa like the Christmas Island shrew (Crocidura trichura). Unsustainable land use still threatens the survival of many species.[2]: 8–9  To target threats to the survival of its fauna, Australia has passed wide-ranging federal and state legislation and established numerous protected areas.[2]: v 

Origins and history[edit]

Evidence suggests that Australia was a part of the supercontinent Gondwana

Both geologic and climatic events helped to make Australia’s fauna unique.[5] Australia was once part of the southern supercontinent Gondwana,[6] which also included South America, Africa, India and Antarctica. Gondwana began to break up 140 million years ago (MYA); 50 MYA Australia separated from Antarctica and was relatively isolated until the collision of the Indo-Australian Plate with Asia in the Miocene era 5.3 MYA. The establishment and evolution of the present-day fauna was apparently shaped by the unique climate and the geology of the continent. As Australia drifted, it was, to some extent, isolated from the effects of global climate change. The unique fauna that originated in Gondwana, such as the marsupials, survived and adapted in Australia.[7]

After the Miocene, fauna of Asian origin were able to establish themselves in Australia. The Wallace Line — the hypothetical line separating the zoogeographical regions of Asia and Australasia — marks the tectonic boundary between the Eurasian and Indo-Australian plates. This continental boundary prevented the formation of land bridges and resulted in a distinct zoological distribution, with limited overlap, of most Asian and Australian fauna, with the exception of birds. Following the emergence of the circumpolar current in the mid-Oligocene era (some 15 MYA), the Australian climate became increasingly arid, giving rise to a diverse group of arid-specialised organisms, just as the wet tropical and seasonally wet areas gave rise to their own uniquely adapted species.[citation needed]


Becoming extinct in 1936, the Tasmanian tiger was the largest carnivorous marsupial to have survived into modern times.[8]

Australia has a rich mammalian fossil history, as well as a variety of extant mammalian species, dominated by the marsupials, currently however there is limited taxonomic research into Australia’s mammals.[9][10] The fossil record shows that monotremes have been present in Australia since the Early Cretaceous 145–99 MYA,[11] and that marsupials and placental mammals date from the Eocene 56–34 MYA,[12] when modern mammals first appeared in the fossil record. Although terrestrial marsupials and placental mammals did coexist in Australia in the Eocene, only the marsupials have survived to the present. Non-volant placental mammals made their reappearance in Australia in the Miocene, when Australia moved closer to Indonesia, and rodents started to appear reliably in the Late Miocene fossil record. The marsupials evolved to fill specific ecological niches, and in many cases they are physically similar to the placental mammals in Eurasia and North America that occupy similar niches, a phenomenon known as convergent evolution.[13] For example, the top predator in Australia, the Tasmanian wolf,[8] bore a striking resemblance to canids.[14] Gliding possums and flying squirrels have similar adaptations enabling their arboreal lifestyle;[15] and the numbat and anteaters are both digging insectivores.[16] For the most part, mammals are not a highly visible part of the faunal landscape, as most species are nocturnal and many arboreal.

Monotremes and marsupials[edit]

Two of the five living species of monotreme occur in Australia: the platypus and the short-beaked echidna,[17] the other three being echidnas that only occur in New Guinea. Monotremes differ from other mammals in their methods of reproduction; in particular, they lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young.[17] The platypus — a venomous, egg-laying, duck-billed amphibious mammal — is considered to be one of the strangest creatures in the animal kingdom. When it was first presented by Joseph Banks to English naturalists it was thought to be a hoax.[17][18] The short-beaked echidna is covered in hairy spikes with a tubular snout in the place of a mouth, and a tongue that can move in and out of the snout at a rate of 100 times a minute to capture termites.[18][19]

The spotted quoll is mainland Australia’s largest carnivorous marsupial and an endangered species.[20][21]

Australia has the world’s largest and most diverse range of marsupials.[22] Marsupials are characterised by the presence of a pouch in which they rear their young after birth.[22] The carnivorous marsupials — Dasyuromorphia — are represented by two surviving families: the Dasyuridae with 51 members, and the Myrmecobiidae with the numbat as its sole extant species.[23] The Tasmanian tiger was the largest Dasyuromorphia[24] and the last living specimen of the family Thylacinidae died in captivity in 1936.[8] The world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial is the Tasmanian devil; it is the size of a small dog and can hunt, although it is mainly a scavenger.[24][25] It became extinct on the mainland some 600 years ago, and is now found only in Tasmania.[25] There are four species of quoll, or «native cat», all of which are threatened species.[21] The eastern quoll for example is believed to have been extinct on the mainland since the 1960s, though there are efforts to reintroduce it.[26][27] The remainder of the Dasyuridae are referred to as «marsupial mice»;[28] most weigh less than 100 g.[29] There are two species of marsupial mole — order Notoryctemorphia — that inhabit the deserts of Western Australia. These rare, blind and earless carnivorous creatures spend most of their time underground; little is known about them.[30][31]

The sugar glider

The bandicoots and bilbies — order Peramelemorphia — are marsupial omnivores.[32] There are seven extant species in Australia, most of which are endangered.[33][34] These small creatures share several characteristic physical features: a plump, arch-backed body with a long, delicately tapering snout, large upright ears, long, thin legs, and a thin tail.[33] The evolutionary origin of this group is unclear, because they share characteristics from both carnivorous and herbivorous marsupials.

The koala does not normally need to drink, because it can obtain all of the moisture it needs by eating leaves.

Marsupials with two front teeth (diprotodont) on the lower jaw and syndactyly are classified in the order Diprotodontia, and further into the suborders Vombatiformes, Macropodiformes and Phalangerida. The Vombatiformes include the koala and the three species of wombat. One of Australia’s best-known marsupials, the koala is an arboreal species that feeds on the leaves of various species of eucalyptus.[35] Wombats, on the other hand, live on the ground and feed on grasses, sedges and roots.[35] Wombats use their diprotodont teeth and powerful claws to dig extensive burrow systems; they are mainly crepuscular and nocturnal.[35]

The Phalangerida includes six families and 26 species of possum and three families with 53 species of macropod. The possums are a diverse group of arboreal marsupials and vary in size from the little pygmy possum, weighing just 7 g,[36] to the cat-sized common ringtail and brushtail possums.[37][38] The sugar and squirrel gliders are common species of gliding possum, found in the eucalypt forests of eastern Australia, while the feathertail glider is the smallest glider species.[39][40] The gliding possums have membranes called «patagia» that extend from the fifth finger of their forelimb back to the first toe of their hind foot. These membranes, when outstretched, allow them to glide between trees.

The macropods are divided into three families: the Hypsiprymnodontidae, with the musky rat-kangaroo as its only member;[41] the Potoroidae, with 11 species; and the Macropodidae, with 45 species.[42] Macropods are found in all Australian environments except alpine areas. The Potoroidae include the bettongs, potaroos and rat-kangaroos, small species that make nests and carry plant material with their tails.[43] The Macropodiae include kangaroos, wallabies and associated species; size varies widely within this family. Most macropods have large hind legs and long, narrow hind feet,[44] with a distinctive arrangement of four toes, and powerfully muscled tails, which they use to hop around.[45] The musky rat-kangaroo is the smallest macropod and the only species that is quadrupedal not bipedal,[46] while the male red kangaroo is the largest, reaching a height of about 2 m and weighing up to 85 kg.[1][47]

Placental mammals[edit]

The dingo was the first placental mammal introduced to Australia by humans, around 4000 years ago.[48][49]

Australia has indigenous placental mammals from two orders: the bats — order Chiroptera — represented by six families; and the mice and rats — order Rodentia, family Muridae. There are only two endemic genera of bats,[49] although 7% of the world’s bat species live in Australia.[50] Rodents first arrived in Australia 5–10 MYA,[49] undergoing a wide radiation to produce the species collectively known as the «old endemic» rodents.[51] The old endemics are represented by 14 extant genera.[citation needed] A million years ago, the rat entered Australia from New Guinea and evolved into seven species of Rattus, collectively called the «new endemics».[51]

Since human settlement many additional placental mammals have been introduced to Australia and are now feral.[49] The first placental mammal introduced to Australia was the dingo.[49] Fossil evidence suggests that people from the north brought the dingo to Australia about 5000 years ago.[52] When Europeans settled Australia they intentionally released many species into the wild including the red fox, European hare, and the European rabbit.[49][53] Other domestic species have escaped and over time have produced wild populations including the banteng, cat, fallow deer, red deer, sambar deer, rusa deer, chital, hog deer, horse, donkey, pig, goat, water buffalo, and the camel.[54][55] Only three species of non-native placental mammal were not deliberately introduced to Australia: the house mouse, black rat and the brown rat.

The dugong is an endangered species; the largest remaining population is found in Australian waters.[56][57]

Forty-six marine mammals from the order Cetacea are found in Australian coastal waters. Since the majority of these species have global distribution, some authors do not consider them to be Australian species. There are eleven species of baleen whale present; humpback whales, southern right whales, dwarf minke whales and pygmy blue whales are more commonly observed.[58] There are 37 species of toothed whale, which include all six genera of the family Ziphiidae, and 21 species of oceanic dolphin, including the Australian snubfin dolphin, a species first described in 2005.[59] Some oceanic dolphins, such as the orca, can be found in all waters around the continent; others, such as the Irrawaddy dolphin, are confined to the warm northern waters.[60] The dugong is an endangered marine species that inhabits the waters of north-eastern and north-western Australia, particularly the Torres Strait.[49][57] It can grow up to 3 m long and weigh as much as 400 kg.[57] The dugong is the only herbivorous marine mammal in Australia, feeding on sea grass in coastal areas.[57][61] The destruction of sea grass beds is a threat to the survival of this species.[56] Eleven species of seal — family Pinnipedia — live off the southern coast.


The emu is the second largest extant species of bird. It is a heraldic bird, appearing on the coat of arms of Australia.

Australia and its territories are home to around 800 species of bird;[62] 45% of these are endemic to Australia.[63] The fossil record of birds in Australia is patchy; however, there are records of the ancestors of contemporary species as early as the Late Oligocene.[64] Birds with a Gondwanan history include the flightless ratites (the emu and southern cassowary),[65] megapodes (the malleefowl and Australian brush-turkey),[66] and a huge group of endemic parrots, order Psittaciformes. Australian parrots comprise a sixth of the world’s parrots,[67] including many cockatoos and galahs.[68] The kookaburra is the largest species of the kingfisher family, known for its call, which sounds uncannily like loud, echoing human laughter.[69] The Brolga is the only crane exclusive to Australia, and it shares habitat with the more widely distributed Sarus Cranes.[70]

A female gang-gang cockatoo

The passerines of Australia, also known as songbirds or perching birds,[71] include wrens,[72] robins,[73] the magpie group,[74] thornbills,[75] pardalotes,[76] the huge honeyeater family,[77] treecreepers,[78] lyrebirds,[79] birds of paradise and bowerbirds.[80] The satin bowerbird has attracted the interest of evolutionary psychologists; it has a complex courtship ritual in which the male creates a bower filled with blue, shiny items to woo mates.[81]

Relatively recent colonists from Eurasia are swallows,[citation needed] larks,[82] thrushes,[83] cisticolas, sunbirds, and some raptors, including the large wedge-tailed eagle.[citation needed] A number of bird species have been introduced by humans; some, like the European goldfinch and greenfinch,[84] coexist happily with Australian species,[citation needed] while others, such as the common starling, common blackbird, house sparrow and Indian mynah, are destructive of some native bird species and thus destabilise the native ecosystem.[citation needed]

About 200 species of seabird live on the Australian coast, including many species of migratory seabird. Australia is at the southern end of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway for migratory water birds, which extends from Far-East Russia and Alaska through Southeast Asia to Australia and New Zealand. About two million birds travel this route to and from Australia each year.[citation needed] One very common large seabird is the Australian pelican, which can be found in most waterways in Australia.[85] The Australian little penguin is the only species of penguin that breeds on mainland Australia.[86]

Amphibians and reptiles[edit]

The eastern banjo frog is a common frog species across eastern Australia.[87]

Australia has four families of native frogs and one introduced toad, the cane toad.[88] In 1935 the cane toad was introduced to Australia in a failed attempt to control pests in sugarcane crops. It has since become a devastating pest, spreading across northern Australia. As well as competing with native insectivores for food, the cane toad produces a venom that is toxic to native fauna,[89] as well as to humans.[90] The Myobatrachidae, or southern frogs,[91] are Australia’s largest group of frogs, with 112 species classified into anywhere from 17 to 22 genera.[92] A notable member of this group is the colourful and endangered Corroboree frog.[93] The tree frogs, from family Hylidae,[94] are common in high rainfall areas on the north and east coasts;[95] there are 77 Australian species from three genera.[citation needed] The 18 species from two genera of the Microhylidae frogs are restricted to the rainforests of northern Australia and nearby habitats;[96] the smallest species, the scanty frog, is from this family.[citation needed] There is a single species from the world’s dominant frog group, family Ranidae – the Australian wood frog – which only occurs in the Queensland rainforests.[97] As elsewhere, there has been a precipitous decline in Australia’s frog populations in recent years.[98] Although the full reasons for the decline are uncertain, it can be at least partly attributed to the fatal amphibian fungal disease chytridiomycosis.[98] Another theory for the decline might be, as research shows, that species from the Southern Hemisphere are on average 4.6 million years old, compared to an average 2.9 million years old for the Northern Hemisphere: Researchers believe this age difference is because of the history of severe ice ages in the Northern Hemisphere, which may drive older species to extinction.[99]

The saltwater crocodile is the largest species of crocodile in the world.[100]

Australia has two species of crocodile. The saltwater crocodile, known colloquially as the «salty», is the largest living crocodile species; reaching over 7 m,[101] and weighing over 1,000 kg,[102][103][104] they can and do kill people.[105] They live on the coast and in the freshwater rivers and wetlands of northern Australia, and they are farmed for their meat and leather.[105] Freshwater crocodiles, found only in northern Australia, are not considered dangerous to humans.[100]

The Australian coast is visited by six species of sea turtle: the flatback, green sea, hawksbill, olive ridley, loggerhead and the leatherback sea turtles;[106] all are protected in Australian waters.[107] There are 35 species of Australian freshwater turtles from eight genera of the family Chelidae.[108] The pig-nosed turtle is the only Australian turtle not of that family.[109] Australia is the only continent without any living species of land tortoises of the Testudinoidea superfamily[110] besides Antarctica.

Blue-tongued lizards are amongst the largest species of skink.

Australia is the only continent[citation needed] where venomous snakes outnumber their non-venomous cousins.[111] Australian snakes belong to seven families. Of these, the most venomous species,[citation needed] including the fierce snake,[112] eastern brown snake,[113] taipan and eastern tiger snake are from the family Elapidae.[114] Of the 200 species of elapid, 106 are found in Australia[115] and 86 are found only in Australia.[citation needed] Thirty-three sea snakes from family Hydrophiidae inhabit Australia’s northern waters; many are extremely venomous. Two species of sea snake from the Acrochordidae also occur in Australian waters. Australia has only 11 species from the world’s most significant snake family Colubridae; none are endemic, and they are considered to be relatively recent arrivals from Asia. There are 15 python species and 45 species of insectivorous blind snake.[116]

There are more species of snake in Darwin than any other Australian state capital, with 34 non-marine snake species found in the region, of which 23 have been recorded by professional snake catchers in Darwin itself.[117] Fortunately for the citizens of Darwin, a far smaller proportion of these snakes are highly venomous than is typically found in other cities, due to the low numbers of front-fanged elapid species and dominance of relatively harmless pythons and colubrid species.[118][119]

There are 30 species of goanna in Australia.[120]

There are more than 700 species of lizards in Australia[121] with representatives of five families.[122] There are over 130 species in 20 genera of gecko found throughout the Australian continent.[121] The Pygopodidae is a family of limbless lizards endemic to the Australian region;[123] all 39 species from seven genera occur in Australia.[121] The Agamidae or dragon lizards are represented by 70 species in 14 genera,[121] including the thorny devil, bearded dragon and frill-necked lizard.[124] There are 30 species of monitor lizard,[121] family Varanidae, in Australia, where they are commonly known as goannas.[125] The largest Australian monitor is the perentie, which can reach up to 2 m in length.[126] There are about 450 species of skink from more than 40 genera, comprising more than 50% of the total Australian lizard fauna;[121] this group includes the blue-tongued lizards.[127]


The Murray cod is Australia’s largest wholly freshwater bony fish.[128]

More than 5000 species of fish inhabit Australia’s waterways;[129][130] of these, 24% are endemic. However, because of the relative scarcity of freshwater waterways, Australia has only about 300 species of freshwater fish.[131] Two families of freshwater fish have ancient origins: the arowana or bonytongues, and the Queensland lungfish.[132] The Queensland lungfish is the most primitive of the lungfish, having evolved before Australia separated from Gondwana.[131][133] One of the smallest freshwater fish, peculiar to the southwest of Western Australia, is the salamanderfish, which can survive desiccation in the dry season by burrowing into mud.[134] Other families with a potentially Gondwanan origin include the Retropinnidae, Galaxiidae, Aplochitonidae and Percichthyidae.[citation needed] Apart from the ancient freshwater species, 70% of Australia’s freshwater fish have affinities with tropical Indo-Pacific marine species that have adapted to freshwater.[135] These species include freshwater lampreys,[136] Herrings, catfish, rainbowfish, and some 50 species of gudgeon, including the sleepy cod.[137] Native freshwater game fish include the barramundi,[138] Murray cod, and golden perch.[139] Two species of endangered freshwater shark are found in the Northern Territory.[citation needed]

The weedy sea dragon, a fish related to pipefish and seahorses, is found in the waters around southern Australia.[140]

Several exotic freshwater fish species, including brown, brook and rainbow trout, Atlantic and Chinook salmon, redfin perch, common carp, and mosquitofish, have been introduced to Australian waterways.[141] The mosquitofish is a particularly aggressive species known for harassing and nipping the fins of other fish. It has been linked to declines and localised extirpations of several small native fish species. The introduced trout species have had serious negative impacts on a number of upland native fish species including trout cod, Macquarie perch and mountain galaxias species as well as other upland fauna such as the spotted tree frog. The common carp is strongly implicated in the dramatic loss in waterweed, decline of small native fish species and permanently elevated levels of turbidity in the Murray-Darling Basin of south west Australia.[citation needed]

Most of Australia’s fish species are marine, and 75% live in tropical marine environments.[130] This is partly due to Australia’s huge marine territory, covering 9 million km2.[130] Groups of interest include the moray eels and squirrelfish,[142] as well as the pipefish and seahorses,[143] whose males incubate their partner’s eggs in a specialised pouch.[140] There are 80 species of grouper in Australian waters,[citation needed] including one of the world’s biggest bony fish, the giant grouper, which can grow as large as 2.7 m and weigh up to 400 kg.[144] The trevally, a group of 50 species of silver schooling fish, and the snappers are popular species for commercial fishing.[145] The Great Barrier Reef supports a huge variety of small- and medium-sized reef fish, including the damselfish, butterflyfish, angelfish,[146] gobies, cardinalfish, wrassees,[147] triggerfish and surgeonfish.[148] There are several venomous fish, among them several species of stonefish and pufferfish and the red lionfish, all of which have toxins that can kill humans.[149] There are 11 venomous species of stingray,[citation needed] the largest of which is the smooth stingray.[150] The barracudas are one of the reef’s largest species.[151] However, large reef fish should not be eaten for fear of ciguatera poisoning.

The spotted wobbegong is the largest wobbegong shark, reaching a length of around 3 m[152]

Sharks inhabit all the coastal waters and estuarine habitats of Australia’s coast. There are 166 species, including 30 species of requiem shark, 32 of catshark, six of wobbegong shark, and 40 of dogfish shark.[citation needed] There are three species from the family Heterodontidae: the Port Jackson shark, the zebra bullhead shark and the crested bullhead shark.[153] In 2004, there were 12 unprovoked shark attacks in Australia, of which two were fatal.[154] Only 3 species of shark pose a significant threat to humans: the bull shark, the tiger shark and the great white shark. Some popular beaches in Queensland and New South Wales are protected by shark netting, a method that has reduced the population of both dangerous and harmless shark species through accidental entanglement.[citation needed] The overfishing of sharks has also significantly reduced shark numbers in Australian waters, and several species are now endangered.[citation needed] A megamouth shark was found on a Perth beach in 1988;[155] very little is known about this species, but this discovery may indicate the presence of the species in Australian coastal waters.


Taxonomic group Estimated number of species described Estimated total number of species in Australia
Porifera 1,476 ~3,500
Cnidaria 1,705 ~2,200
Platyhelminthes 1,593 ~10,000
Acanthocephala 56 ~160
Nematoda ~2,060 ~30,000
Mollusca ~8,700 ~12,250
Annelida 2,192 ~4,230
Onychophora 71 ~80
Crustacea 7,266 ~9,500
Arachnida 6,615 ~31,338
Insecta ~62,000 ~205,000
Echinodermata 1,475 ~2,000
Other invertebrates ~2,371 ~5,015
Modified from: Williams et al. 2001[156] and Chapman, 2009[157]

Of the estimated 200,000 animal species in Australia, about 96% are invertebrates. While the full extent of invertebrate diversity is uncertain, 90% of insects and molluscs are considered endemic.[156] Invertebrates occupy many ecological niches and are important in all ecosystems as decomposers,[158] pollinators, and food sources.[159] The largest group of invertebrates is the insects, comprising 75% of Australia’s known species of animals. The most diverse insect orders are the Coleoptera, with 28,200 species of beetles and weevils,[160] the Lepidoptera with 20,816 species[citation needed] including butterflies and moths,[161] and around 14,800 species of Hymenoptera,[162] including the ants, bees and wasps. Order Diptera, which includes the flies and mosquitoes, comprises 7,786 species.[163] Order Hemiptera, including bugs, aphids and hoppers,[164] comprises 5,650 species; and there are 2,827 species[citation needed] of order Orthoptera, including grasshoppers, crickets and katydids.[165] Introduced species that pose a significant threat to native species include the European wasp,[166] the red fire ant,[167] the yellow crazy ant[168] and feral honeybees which compete with native bees.[169]

There are 1,275 described species and subspecies of ant from Australia.[170] These green ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) are found in tropical Australia and build nests in leaves.[171]

Australia has a wide variety of arachnids, including 78 spider families[172] with 79 species of spider familiar enough to have common names. There are numerous highly venomous species, including the notorious Sydney funnel-web and allied mygalomorphs, whose bites can be deadly.[173] The redback spider was thought to be deadly but redback bites are no longer thought to be life-threatening, as the lack of deaths since 1956 was thought to be due to the development of an anti-venom which has since been shown to be no better than placebo.[174][175] There are thousands of species of mites and ticks from the subclass Acari.[176] Australia also has at least 150 species of pseudoscorpion with an estimated 550 more waiting to be described,[177] and at least 17 scorpion genera with 120 species.[178]

In the Annelida (sub)class Oligochaeta there are many families of aquatic worms, and for native terrestrial worms: the Enchytraeidae (pot worms) and the «true» earthworms in families Acanthodrilidae, Octochaetidae and Megascolecidae.[citation needed] The latter includes the world’s largest earthworm, the giant Gippsland earthworm, found only in Gippsland, Victoria.[179] On average they reach 80 cm in length, but specimens up to 3.7 m in length have been found.[citation needed]

The wolf spider, Lycosa godeffroyi, is common in many areas of Australia. In this family of spiders, the female carries her egg-sac.

The large family Parastacidae includes 124 species of Australian freshwater crayfish.[citation needed] These include the world’s smallest crayfish, the swamp crayfish, which does not exceed 30 mm in length,[180] and the world’s largest crayfish, the Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish,[181] measuring up to 76 cm long and weighing 4.5 kg.[182] The crayfish genus Cherax includes the common yabby,[181] in addition to the farmed species marron and Queensland red claw. Species from the genus Engaeus, commonly known as the land crayfish, are also found in Australia. Engaeus species are not entirely aquatic, because they spend most of their lives living in burrows. Australia has seven species of freshwater crab from the genus Austrothelphusa. These crabs live burrowed into the banks of waterways and can plug their burrows, surviving through several years of drought. The extremely primitive freshwater mountain shrimp, found only in Tasmania, are a unique group, resembling species found in the fossil record from 200 MYA.

A magnificent sea anemone on the Great Barrier Reef, with an ocellaris clownfish.

A huge variety of marine invertebrates are found in Australian waters, with the Great Barrier Reef an important source of this diversity.[citation needed] Families include the Porifera or sea sponges,[183] the Cnidaria (includes the jellyfish, corals and sea anemones, comb jellies),[184] the Echinodermata (includes the sea urchins, sea stars, brittle stars, sea cucumbers, the lamp shells)[185] and the Mollusca (includes snails, slugs, limpets, squid, octopus, cockles, oysters, clams, and chitons).[186] Venomous invertebrates include the box jellyfish, the blue-ringed octopus,[187] and ten species of cone snail,[citation needed] which can cause respiratory failure and death in humans.[187] The crown-of-thorns starfish usually inhabits the reef at low densities. However, under conditions that are not yet well understood, they can reproduce to reach an unsustainable population density when coral is devoured at a rate faster than it can regenerate. This presents a serious reef management issue.[citation needed] Other problematic marine invertebrates include the native species purple sea urchin and the white urchin, which have been able to take over marine habitats and form urchin barrens due to the over harvesting of their natural predators which include abalone and rock lobster.[citation needed] Introduced invertebrate pests include the Asian mussel, New Zealand green-lipped mussel, black-striped mussel and the northern Pacific seastar, all of which displace native shellfish.[citation needed]

There are many unique marine crustaceans in Australian waters. The best-known class, to which all the edible species of crustacean belong, is Malacostraca.[citation needed] The warm waters of northern Australia are home to many species of decapod crustaceans, including crabs, false crabs, hermit crabs, lobsters, shrimps, and prawns. The peracarids, including the amphipods and isopods, are more diverse in the colder waters of southern Australia.[citation needed] Less-well-known marine groups include the classes Remipedia, Cephalocarida, Branchiopoda, Maxillopoda (which includes the barnacles, copepods and fish lice), and the Ostracoda.[188] Notable species include the Tasmanian giant crab, the second largest crab species in the world,[189] found in deep water, and weighing up to 13 kg,[190] and the Australian spiny lobsters, such as the western rock lobster, which are distinct from other lobster species as they do not have claws.[181]

Invasive species[edit]

The poisonous cane toad

Introduction of exotic fauna in Australia by design, accident and natural processes has led to a considerable number of invasive, feral and pest species which have flourished and now impact the environment adversely. Introduced organisms affect the environment in a number of ways. Rabbits render land economically useless by eating everything.[191] Red foxes affect local endemic fauna by predation while the cane toad poisons the predators by being eaten.[192] Some water fleas may have been introduced to Australia by humans[193] or birds.[194] Other invasive species include birds (Indian mynah), fish (common carp), insects (red imported fire ant), molluscs (Asian mussel). The problem is compounded by invasive exotic flora as well as introduced diseases, fungi and parasites. An example of this is Blue Green Algae, which is spreading through many bodies of water in rural Victoria, such as the Gippsland Lakes.

Costly, laborious and time-consuming efforts at control of these species has met with little success and this continues to be a major problem area in the conservation of Australia’s biodiversity.[195]

Many of the introduced species are not regulated through wildlife services and can be regularly hunted year round.[citation needed] Some states even fund hunting initiatives though the efficacy of these programs are disputed.[196]

According to a 2023 report co-authored by biologist Tim Low, invasive species are the leading cause of native Australian animal extinctions since the 1960s.[197]

Human impact and conservation[edit]

For at least 40,000 years, Australia’s fauna played an integral role in the traditional lifestyles of Indigenous Australians, who relied upon many species as a source of food and skins. Vertebrates commonly harvested included macropods, possums, seals, fish and the short-tailed shearwater, most commonly known as the muttonbird. Invertebrates used as food included insects such as the bogong moth and larvae collectively called witchetty grubs and molluscs. The use of fire-stick farming, in which large swathes of bushland were burnt to facilitate hunting, modified both flora and fauna – and are thought to have contributed to the extinction of large herbivores with a specialised diet, such as the flightless birds from the genus Genyornis.[198] The role of hunting and landscape modification by aboriginal people in the extinction of the Australian megafauna is debated,[199] but increasingly favours the idea humans were responsible for megafaunal extinction.[200]

The grey nurse shark is critically endangered on the Australian east coast.

Despite the major impact of Aboriginals on native species populations, this is considered to be less significant than that of the European settlers,[199] whose impact on the landscape has been on a relatively large scale. Since European settlement, direct exploitation of native fauna, habitat destruction and the introduction of exotic predators and competitive herbivores has led to the extinction of some 27 mammal, 23 bird and 4 frog species. Much of Australia’s fauna is protected by legislation.[1] The federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 was created to meet Australia’s obligations as a signatory to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. This act protects all native fauna and provides for the identification and protection of threatened species. In each state and territory, there is statutory listing of threatened species. At present, 380 animal species are classified as either endangered or threatened under the EPBC Act, and other species are protected under state and territory legislation.[201] More broadly, a complete cataloguing of all the species within Australia has been undertaken, a key step in the conservation of Australian fauna and biodiversity. In 1973, the federal government established the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS), which coordinates research in the taxonomy, identification, classification and distribution of flora and fauna. The ABRS maintains free online databases cataloguing much of the described Australian flora and fauna. Impacts such as the illegal setting of traps in rivers affect animals such as the Australian platypus, along with lack of awareness each year an average of 2–5 Australians lose their lives to what is presumed a safe creature. The key is understanding of Australia’s diverse wildlife and fauna; what seems safe is often deadly.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy is the largest private owner of land for conservation in the country which is dedicated to protecting endangered species across 4.8 million hectares of land in the most popular regions such as the Kimberley, Cape York, Lake Eyre and the Top End. This not-for-profit organisation is working hard to avoid extinction of the endangered native species in various wildlife sanctuaries.[202]

Australia is a member of the International Whaling Commission and is strongly opposed to commercial whaling — all cetacean species are protected in Australian waters.[203] Australia is also a signatory to the CITES agreement and prohibits the export of endangered species. Protected areas have been created in every state and territory to protect and preserve the country’s unique ecosystems. These protected areas include national parks and other reserves, as well as 64 wetlands registered under the Ramsar Convention and 16 World Heritage Sites. As of 2002, 10.8% (774,619.51 km2) of the total land area of Australia is within protected areas.[204] Protected marine zones have been created in many areas to preserve marine biodiversity; as of 2002, these areas cover about 7% (646,000 km2) of Australia’s marine jurisdiction.[205] The Great Barrier Reef is managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority under specific federal and state legislation. Some of Australia’s fisheries are already overexploited,[206] and quotas have been set for the sustainable harvest of many marine species.

The State of the Environment Report, 2001, prepared by independent researchers for the federal government, concluded that the condition of the environment and environmental management in Australia had worsened since the previous report in 1996. Of particular relevance to wildlife conservation, the report indicated that many processes — such as salinity, changing hydrological conditions, land clearing, fragmentation of ecosystems, poor management of the coastal environment, and invasive species — pose major problems for protecting Australia’s biodiversity.[207]

See also[edit]

  • List of mammals of Australia
    • List of Australian monotremes and marsupials
    • List of Australian bats
    • List of Australian rodents
    • List of placental mammals introduced to Australia
    • List of Australian marine mammals
  • List of Australian birds
    • List of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds
    • List of birds of Tasmania
  • List of ants of Australia
  • List of butterflies of Australia
  • List of moths of Australia
  • List of Australian stick insects and mantids
  • List of Dermapterans of Australia
  • List of common Australian spiders
  • List of extinct animals of Australia
  • List of introduced fish in Australia
  • Threatened fauna of Australia
  • List of Australian animals extinct in the Holocene
  • List of marine animals of Australia (temperate waters)
  • Environmental issues in Australia


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  • Berra, T. M. 1998. A Natural History of Australia. Academic Press ISBN 0-12-093155-9
  • Egerton, L. ed. 2005. Encyclopedia of Australian wildlife. Reader’s Digest ISBN 1-876689-34-X
  • Kuiter, R. H. 2000. Coastal fishes of south-eastern Australia. Gary Allen ISBN 1-875169-85-7
  • McKay, G. M. et al. 1989. Biogeography and Phylogeny of Eutheria. In Fauna of Australia (D. W. Walton and B. J. Richardson, eds.). Mammalia, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 1B:1–1227.
  • Menkhorst, P. W.; Knight, F. 2004. A field guide to the mammals of Australia. Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-555037-4
  • Prokop, F. B. 2006. Australian fish guide. Australian Fishing Network. ISBN 978-1-86513-107-8
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  • Walton, D. W. Ed. 1987. Fauna of Australia, Volume 1A. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra. ISBN 0-644-06055-7
  • Wells, A. Ed. 2005. [1] Australian Faunal Directory][permanent dead link], Department of Environment and Heritage
  • Wilson, S.; Swan, G. 2017. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 5th Edition. Reed New Holland ISBN 9781925546026

External links[edit]

Spoken Wikipedia icon

This audio file was created from a revision of this article dated 23 October 2006, and does not reflect subsequent edits.

  • Australian Biological Resources Study Archived 8 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  • Australian Insect Common names
  • Australian Museum, Australia’s natural history museum
  • Crustacean Gallery- Marine crustacean from southeastern Australia
  • The Reptile Database
  • University of Melbourne Australian Venom Research Unit, descriptions and images of venomous species
  • Fauna of Australia, full contents of Mammalia and some of Amphibia & Reptilia available in .pdf format
  • 30+ Native Australian Animals — Facts, Pics & Where To Find Them


В этой статье мы познакомим вас со списком австралийских животных на английском языке в таблицах с pdf и mp3 файлами. В звуковых файлах mp3 вы найдёте надиктовку этих слов, а pdf-файлы помогут вам научиться правильно их писать. Кроме этого, мы даём текст и звук в стиле караоке. Ребенок сможет пропевать новые слова вместе с оригинальным исполнителем, в одном с ним ритме. В тексте, скрытом под символом «+» (нажмите на значок и текст раскроется) содержится описание тематической картинки, которую вы можете найти в книге pdf-формата, скачав всю книгу «Longman Picture Dictionary». 


1. Activities
2. Dialog
3. Возможное описание картинки Австралийских животных
4. The Australian Outback Chant (text, mp3, pdf)
5. Слова, описывающие Автралийских животных (таблица, mp3, pdf)

 36 australian

Слова, описывающие австралийских животных

PDF-1            PDF-2

 Скачать всю книгу Longman Picture Dictionary



1Find animals that start with k? Put them in alphabetical order.


A: What‘s your favorite Australian animal

B: I like platypus best.

A: Does the dingo have a pouch?

B: No, it doesn’t. / Yes, it does. 


pir 1

linking words 1


Посмотрите на картинку.

Look at the picture.

































Underwater Realm Story


——текст песни——

Australian Outback Chant

pir 1

linking words 1


Throw the boomerang.

Бросьте бумеранг.


Climb the gum tree.

Взбирайтесь на эвкалипт.


Hop like a kangaroo. (hop hop)

Прыгайте, как кенгуру. (прыгайте прыгайте)


Dig like a wombat.

Копай как вомбат.


Run like an emu.

Беги как эму.


Hop like a kangaroo. (hop hop)

Прыгайте, как кенгуру. (прыгайте прыгайте)


Jump in the billabong.

Прыгайте в залив.


Crawl like a crocodile.

Ползите, как крокодил.


Hop like a kangaroo. (hop hop)

Прыгайте, как кенгуру. (прыгайте прыгайте)














Hop like a kangaroo. (hop hop)

Прыгайте, как кенгуру. (прыгайте прыгайте)

The Australian Outback Chant

The Australian Outback Chant (караоке)

trenazher 25


pir 1

linking words 1















































gum tree

[ɡʌm triː]














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