Similar to how there are species only found in Madagascar, there are some animals native to Australia not found anywhere else in the world in the wild. When Australia split from the ancient super-continent Pangea, it leant itself to be forever blessed with unique evolutionary processes. These processes resulted in some unusual, beautiful and enigmatic birds and animals native to Australia, like these for example:
Probably the most well known of the animals native to Australia, the kangaroos is also a national symbol. The kangaroo belongs to the marsupial group of mammals, which means they give birth to live young, carrying them in a pouch. There are actually around 60 different species of kangaroos, so not all joeys are equal. They are pack creatures, with a pack being known as a mob, they graze, are hardy to various habitats including the coastal lowlands and beaches, have extremely strong tails and leap huge distances, traveling at speeds up to 40mph. Wallabies are a close but smaller cousin.
One of the cutest native Australian animals is the koala. Although I grew up knowing it as a koala bear, it is now known to be far removed from bears, so to call it so is frowned upon by Aussies! One of the world’s laziest animals, koalas spend many hours lolling in trees chewing on eucalyptus. They spend an estimated 80% of their time sleeping! They also drink very little water, getting the moisture they need from the leaves, and indeed the name koala means “no water.” The koala lives mainly in South-Eastern Australia and is another of Australia’s marsupials.
In terms of large birds, there are Cassowaries and ostriches in Australia, but there is also the emu. The emu is one of a number of birds native to Australia and amazingly, there is only one species. The emu, like the cassowaries, ostriches, and the kiwis of New Zealand, is flightless. It is the third largest bird in the world, just smaller than the ostrich. The female lays eggs that weigh around 1¼ pounds – wow! Emus like to play in mud and can achieve running speeds of 30+ miles per hour.
Australian wildlife may have had a somewhat unique evolution but once you get to know a few of the animals, there is a striking similarity between some of them. There are characteristics that make them distinctly Australian. Such is the case with the Quokka – also known, for good reason, as the kangaroo rat. It is small, very active at night and lives in packs, mainly in Western Australia, particularly Rottnest Island, a stunning location off the coast of Perth.
The Tasmanian Devil is not just a cartoon character who does his best to torment Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam. The Tasmanian Devil, in reality, is another of the animals native to Australia, more specifically to the island state of Tasmania. Despite how Looney Tunes portrays it, the Tasmanian Devil is naturally shy and a fairly solitary animal. It is carnivorous, hunting mainly at night. It is a sort of dog like creature but with shaping like a bear and rodent-like facial features – remember what I said about commonality? They are also noisy beggars with a wide range of vocal sounds.
I actually thought that kookaburras and cockatoos were native Australian birds but it turns out they are a kind of kingfisher and exist in the Oceanic region, not just Australia. The cockatiel, however, is native to Oz, even though you will find them in many parts of the world now as household pets. Originally described as a crested parrot, the cockatiel was later classified as a sub-family of the cockatoo. They are found all over Australia, particularly in scrubland, wetlands and the bush.
Another devil? This one, also known as the moloch, is one of the reptiles native to Australia. It is a harmless reptile that is slow moving with a gait that sees its tail move jerkily and slowly. It is able to camouflage itself according to the soil of its Central and Western Australian habitats, ranging from yellow to reddish-brown and black. They are characterized by their soft spines and the female is usually larger than the male, growing up to 8 inches. I love the way the thorny devil gathers water. Water collects in thousands of tiny grooves on the animal, which collects and then runs along to the corner of its mouth.
Here endeth our short but enjoyable foray into the world of birds and animals native to Australia. Fascinating or what?
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