The Australian fauna consists of a huge diversity of species, the majority (90%) is endemic! The island’s isolation and climate change explain the diversity of this rich and special fauna. The aboriginal colonisation more than 40,000 years ago and the European’s discovery of Australia during the 18th century significantly affected the fauna. Today only some species survived. Here are some examples of strange animals in Australia:
1. Thorny Devil
The Thorny Devil is a lizard whose body is covered with little horns. It feeds mainly on ants (about 2000 per meal), cached with the tongue. It lives in arid and sandy areas of Australia and buries in the sand to protect itself from the heat.
2. The Tasmanian Devil
The largest living carnivorous marsupial, the Tasmanian Devil, was named after its impressive jaw and terrifying screams when hunting.
Previously hunted and eaten by settlers, the Devil is now a threatened species despite its protection (since 1941). Since the 1990s the breed is affected by a form of cancerous facial tumor which is 100% fatal.
Nearly 70% of the population was decimated since the onset of the disease. Today the government is trying to save the species and will probably transfer a part of the healthy population to another Australian island…
3. The Cassowary
This bird looks suspiciously like a prehistoric ostrich. It is only found in the rainforests of Northeastern Australia (only 1200 specimens in the wild). It measures about 1,70 m and weights about 70 kg … Its legs are powerful and have a big claw so better avoid confrontation! They are very territorial and have injured some visitors in the past!
4. The Kookaburra
This special bird is particularly known for its strange screams, a mocking laugh! In the Aboriginal culture, this bird is mythical. It feeds on anything that crawls, flies and swims!
5. The Echidna
This strange little hedgehog (not from the same family though) is an emblematic animal of Australia (it can be found on the coins of 5 cents). Its long snout has sensitive sensors allowing him to locate his food…
6. The Blowfish
This sticky ¨thing¨ lives in the deep waters of the broad Australian and Tasmanian coasts. Its density is lower than that of water, which allows it to “float” and therefore to conserve energy by avoiding swim. It is now a threatened species due to overfishing.
7. Frilled Neck Lizard
The collared lizard can be found in the North and the East of the country. When it feels threatened it unfolds its collar to frighten the attackers … Welcome to Jurassic Park!
8. The Platypus
With a duck beak and a beaver tail the platypus is a unique species. It is found along the entire East Coast and in Tasmania. It identifies the food (small invertebrates) using the electro-receptors in its beak.
9. The Wombat
The Wombat is a small shy marsupial which is found in the Eastern part of Australia and in Tasmania. It looks like a small bear but can still weigh up to 40 kg!
Hope you enjoyed our summary of strange animals in Australia.
More strange animals in Australia?
Do you know more strange animals in Australia? Then post it in the comments below…
Updated on the 16th of September 2019. Initially published on the 13th of January 2016.