When people think of Australian wildlife, they often think of popular animals like kangaroos, wombats, koalas, or even the frilled lizard made popular in the classic Disney cartoon ‘The Rescuers Down Under’! Despite the attention these iconic animals receive, there are many animals native to this land that are unfamiliar, even to Australians.
These extraordinary creatures should not be overlooked. Despite the lack of attention they receive from the media, it is no less important to safeguard their existence than it is to the animals that are a more popular representation of Australia. Here are six lesser-known Australian animals and more information about each one.
- Perentie – This lizard prefers life in the arid desert-like regions of the central and western areas of the continent. Its snakelike, forked tongue allows it to pick up scents from the air around it. Unlike other lizards, it has a high level of endurance and can run for long periods of time at high speeds.
- Rufous bettong – This animal is also known as the rat-kangaroo, because it hops like a kangaroo does. These animals carry nesting materials like leaf litter on their prehensile tails, and then surround themselves in it during the day. At night they feed on roots and tubers in the ground.
- Fat-tailed dunnart – This marsupial is no bigger than a mouse, but is found throughout Australia. It lives in a variety of habitats, where it stores fat in the base of its tail. These animals are hard to spot because of their size, but have a personality that rivals their cousins, the Tasmanian devils.
- Pademelon – A small marsupial that resembles a wallaby, this animal resides in the coastal forests in Queensland and New South Wales. Their short tail and legs help it move through dense vegetation. They are able to tunnel through long grasses and bushes, even in the swampy areas of the forests where they live.
- Spotted-tailed quoll – This marsupial lives in the eastern region of Australia. It prefers to live in forests and rainforests including in Tasmania. The species has substantially dropped in number, sadly, due to loss of habitat in these areas of the country as well as the introduction of predatory species.
- Spinifex hopping mouse – These diminutive rodents are found in the central desert areas of the country. They retain water from their diet, which includes roots, insects, and seeds, which is how they can survive in such an arid climate. They get their name from their hopping way of moving, and they use their long tail to maintain balance.
These are just six of the many lesser-known animals of Australia. Many people don’t ever get a chance to see these animals, unless they’re at the zoo. Then the animals are in enclosures, where they are still only seen at a distance.
One way that you can see two of these animals, the Rufous Bettong and the Spotted-Tailed Quoll, is by attending a Reptile Encounters show. Reptile Encounters encourages wildlife conservation through hands-on experiences at programs that both entertain and educate. Click the ‘Contact Us’ tab above to schedule your own show today.
Meet our Rufous Bettong!