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About Australia - Native Wildlife

Australia is home to many unique animals that aren't found anywhere else in the world. The native wildlife is made up of unique mammals, reptiles and birdlife.

 

Kangaroos

kangaroos grazing on some grassKangaroos are one of the iconic of all Australian animals. Kangaroos are distinguished from other animals by the way they hop around on their large powerful back legs. They also have a large strong tail that assists with balance while hopping and acts as a fifth limb whilst moving slowly. They are herbivores and eat a large range of plants and in some cases, fungi. Different species live in a variety of habitats; from rock clefts to trees, from nests to caves.
They live all over Australia in almost every climate.

 

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Koalas

A koala sitting in a gum treeAre also known as Koala Bears (although definitely not any sort of bear), are small bear-like creatures that live and feed on Eucalypt trees. They are a sleepy animal as they spend 18hrs of any day asleep.

They grow to about 30cm in length and have grey/white thick and woolly fur. The koala cub lives within its mothers pouch for up to 6 weeks, but remains with the mother until about 12 months of age when it weighs approx. 2gk.

Koalas do not live in families, but are solitary creatures and obtain most of their water from the leaves that they eat.

 

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Wombats

A womabt digging a holeThere are three species of wombat found in Australia. The Common Wombat is found from the border of Queensland/New South Wales, around the coast through to South Australia. They prefer an environment that provides them with forest covered hills or mountainous areas, both of which are good for burrowing and supply them with native grasses to eat. The less common variety are the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat and the Norther Hairy-nosed Wombat.

Adult wombats grow to become quite large, and can weigh in at 40kg. Wombats are a protected species with their main threats are dingoes, humans and cars.

Their burrow systems can extend up to 20 or 30 metres long, although some shorter burrows are also used. They are usually made by digging into a hillside or creek slope. Wombats use their strong front legs to to dig their burrows and use their hind legs to push away the loosened earth. The burrow is enlarged by the wombat laying on its side and scratching at the sides and roof.

Wombats are nocturnal animals, but you can see them sometimes during the daytime in winter for some sun. Their diet consists of grasses, roots and sedges.
Wombats are much like humans, in that they breed at any time of the year. The females have a pouch where the young grows for six months before leaving the pouch.

 

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Humpback Whales

Humbpback whales are said to b the acrobats of the ocean with their breaching and slapping on the water that they display for whale watchers. Humpbacks live in pods and they are called the humpback as it describes the motion that it makes as it arches its back out of the water in preparation for a dive.

The humpback whales grow to be about 16 metres in length and weigh between 27 and 45 tonnes. As with all baleen whales, the females are larger than males. Humpbacks can be white, grey, black or mottled. They have distinctive while markings on the underside of their tails that are unique to each whale, like fingerprints. Their skin is often scarred and/or have patches covered in barnacles.

Whales are seasonal feeders and feed twice a day for about 120 days at a time in cold waters. They are carnivores and feed on small crustaceans such as krill, plankton and small fish. The average whale will consume 2000-2500kg (4,400-5,500 pounds) a day in feeding season.

They take seasonal migrations for mating and calving and also feeding. They mate and calve in warm tropical waters during winter and then travel to colder waters in summer to feed. During the summer in the warmer waters, they live off their fatm or blubber; the young calves feed off their mothers milk.

 

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Echidnas

An echidna is a spiny ant-eaterEchidnas are an unusual mammal because they lay eggs. Mammals that lay eggs are called Monotremes. Echidnas have strong pointed spines on its back, sides and tail and in between these spines is very coarse hair. The long pointy spines are their only form of protection. On their tummies they are covered in softer hair, so when an echidna is in danger they tuck their heads in and curl into a ball to protect their tummy.

Echidnas have a long snout that is very sensitive to touch, can feel vibrations and also has a very good sense of smell. Echidnas have often been referred to as the spiny ant-eater, as they live on bugs like ants and termites and finds them with their snout and then uses their claws to dig. They stick its long sticky tongue into a next and flicks it around. The insects stick to the tongue and are then drawn into the echidnas tiny mouth.

Echidnas live in or near bushland. They can swim, however they don't like the heat.

 

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Platypus

The platypus is an animal that has a leathery bill like a ducks, and has fur and a tail like a beaver. They have webbed feet for swimming and claws for digging. The platypus is another Monotreme as it lays eggs that are much like a reptiles and when the young hatches, they mother feeds them milk.

The platypus is found in eastern Australia and live mainly aside freshwater rivers or lakes and create burrows for shelter and protection. They are another animal that is mostly active at nighttime.

Platypus swim under water for two minutes at a time before returning to the surface for oxygen and swim with their eyes shut, using their bill to to upturn mud on the bottom of the lake or river. They feed on the lavae of insects, worms or other freshwater insects. They store their findings in special pouches behind their bill.

They appear to be cute and cuddly, but the male platypus has a spur behind both hind legs. This is connected to a venom gland, and the platypus uses this spur to defend itself against predators.

 

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Kookaburra

A kookaburra sitting in a tree. A kookaburra's call sounds like a laughKookaburras are part of the kingfisher family. They have short thick bodies, large heads and a long bill. They are black, brown and white and have patches of blue on their wings. They feed on insects, snakes, lizards, frogs and fish. The call of the Kookaburra sounds like it is laughing and is more often heard at dusk and dawn than any other time. An Aboriginal legend says that the kookaburra's laugh is a signal to the sky spirits to light the great fire (the sun) in the morning and to put it out at night.

 

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Dingos

A dingo standing on an Australian beach.A dog like animal that is mostly associated with the Azaria Chamberlain story. It is the Australian wild dog and are found in all states but Tasmania. Dingos are a medium sized dog with a fluffy tail. They are red to yellow in colour and do not bark, but they do howl.

They aren't native to Australia, but it is unclear as to how they got there.

They are meat eaters, however if food is scarce, they are known to eat reptiles and any food source they can find. When food is particularly hard to find, they hunt in groups for larger animals such as kangaroos.

It is recommended that you don't feed wild dingoes as they can become dependant on people, and they are wild animals and can be dangerous when provoked. However, they can be domesticated.

 

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