Australian Wildlife

KANGAROOS Eastern Grey Kangaroos are from the macropod family. “Macro-pod” means “Big-foot”and you can see why. Pregnancy is short, 35-36day. The tiny unformed joey climbs into mums pouch. It keeps developing, at 5 months old starts putting its head out of the pouch. Stays with mum and feeds until it is about 18 months old. Kangaroos are herbivores, and mainly eat grass Adults are 1.8m tall and up to 90kg weigh for males, females up to 55kg. The biggest kangaroos are Red Kangaroos and they are up to 2.2m tall. They live for over 20 years.

EMUS Emus are giant flightless birds. They are covered in feathers, but can not fly. Emus walk around in groups. Emus have babies once a year in winter. The father is responsible for sitting on the eggs and looking after the chicks. He sits on the eggs for nearly two months during which time he eats and drinks almost nothing. He loses about a third of his body weight while he is on the nest. When the chicks hatch out, they stay with the father for about 6 months. He walks around the bush with them showing them how to find food, and protects them from predators. The mother does protect the father while he is on the nest, but she does not help to raise the chicks.

Cassowaries Cassowaries are the heaviest bird in Australia, and are flightless birds. Cassowaries are distributed throughout New Guinea. In Australia it is restricted to tracts of rainforest in north-east Queensland, from Cape York to Townsville. Cassowaries are frugivores (fruit eaters) and are responsible for the distribution and germination of many north Queensland rainforest trees. Without cassowaries, our rainforests may not be able to survive.

KOALAS Koalas are marsupials, like most Australian mammals. This means they have a pouch where their babies (called joeys) develop. “Koala” means “no drink”. They do sometimes drink water, but they usually don’t need to because they can get all the fluid they need from their food-eucalyptus. Koalas only eat the leave of gum trees, and usually only eat the tender new leaf growth that has the most nutrients and energy. Eucalyptus leaves have low nutritional value, as result koalas sleep 16-18 sometimes up to 20hrs a day. Koala pregnancy is 34 days. We estimate we had 1million koalas 100years ago, these days the estimate is 50 000 in the wild. Koalas are endangered, which means that they are likely to go extinct if we don’t do something to save them.

WOMBATS Wombats are Australian marsupial mammals that have very short muscular legs and are the closest relative to the Koala. Wombats feed on grasses and roots (they are herbivores) . wombats are nocturnal and will rarely venture out during the day.

Wombats are generally slow movers however they can run quickly if required. Their best form of defence though is when they are in their burrow.

Little penguin Penguins are flightless seabirds. The little penguin is the smallest of all penguins. Standing about 35 to 45 cm in height, it weighs approximately one kilogram when fully grown.

Currently, the only known mainland breeding colony in NSW is in Manly area of Sydney Harbour. This colony has been declared an endangered population.

The birds usually nest in burrows. They often set up their colonies in sand-dune vegetation, but they can also be found among rocks, in sea caves, and on headlands. The birds are excellent swimmers, and are able to survive at sea for long periods. They generally spend the day at sea and return to their colonies after dark. On land they stand upright, walking or waddling awkwardly on their hind legs.

Little penguins feed on small fish, squid and krill (tiny shrimp-like crustaceans). They mainly feed in shallow waters within 15 to 20 kilometres of the coast.

Echidnas Together with the platypus, echidnas are the world’s only monotremes, or egg-laying marsupial mammals. All echidnas have sharp spines covering the back of their short, stocky bodies.Termites are the preferred food

Tasmanian Devils Tasmanian Devils are the largest living carnivorous marsupial in Australia. Male Tasmanian Devils can weigh up to 12kg, and females up to 10kg. Each Devil has distinctive white markings on their chest, which is used like a fingerprint to identify individuals.

More than 5000 years ago, Tasmanian Devils were common on mainland Australia. They got pushed away by dingoes that arrived from Indonesia. Today, they are only found in Tasmania. Tasmanian Devils often scavenge dead animals (carrion) found on roadsides. Sadly, many of them are hit by cars while feeding. They are unlucky, one of 3 species in the world that has contagious cancer. They develop facial tumors and die of starvation. In some parts of Tasmania, we lost up to 80-90% of wild population.

Dingoes Dingoes are Australia’s wild dog. They arrived in Australia about 5,000 years ago – brought to Australian shores by Indonesian Seafarers. Dingoes do not bark, but howl like wolves. Weighing between 13-24kg, Colours vary from sandy yellow to red ginger, and there are a small percentage of dogs who are black, black-tan or white. They eat a variety of animals but the majority of their diet is wallaby and kangaroo. They are also known to prey on rabbits

Dingoes are found through most of mainland Australia, but are absent from Tasmania. There are many different cross breeds of dingo/dog . Truly pure dingoes are extremely rare.