Tasmanian Devil

Scientific Name: Sarcophilus harrisii

Conservation Status: Endangered

Tasmanian Devils are the largest carnivorous marsupial alive today. They live in Tasmania, but were once found on mainland Australia. They give birth to up to 40 young at one time, that are the size of a grain of rice, but a maximum of 4 will only survive, as mum only has 4 teats. The Tasmanian Devil has the strongest bite for its size of any animal in the world. It can chew through fur, skin, scales, meat and bone. They are known for their horrendous calls, often heard in the middle of the night when they are out looking for food.

 

Dingo

Scientific name: Canis lupus dingo

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

The Australian Dingo is often thought to be just like a domestic dog, but they are actually more closely related to wolves. In fact they have been thought to of evolved from the Asiatic wolf which island hopped to Australia from Asia and Papua New Guinea with the Aboriginal people thousands of years ago. The dingo has the best problem solving skills of any canine in the world, they also have very flexible bodies – they can touch their spine with their nose, turn their wrists (like you do to open a door) and can jump very high. These abilities are thought to aid in hunting arboreal animals like possums. They also have a very flexible pelvis, which allows them to slip into the burrow of a wombat. Dingoes can not create a true bark, instead they howl to communicate, and will often howl in unison.

 

Southern Cassowary

Scientific name: Casuarius casuarius

Conservation Status: Endangered

There are three extant species of cassowary, only the Southern cassowary is found in Australia. They can be found in the tropical rainforests of Far North Queensland. The Southern Cassowary spends its days foraging for fruits in the rainforest, it is known for being able to consume very large fruits whole and then deposits the seeds out in their feces as they travel. This process is so important, that if the cassowary went extinct the entire ecosystem would cease to exist as it does today. We call this a key stone species. Cassowaries have some bizarre features, the most notable would be the helmet or casque on their head. The casque is used for sound resonation and most recently has been discovered to aid in thermoregulation through evaporative cooling. While these birds are beautiful to look at, please use caution as they have a 6inch claw on their inner tor which they will use the defend themselves when feeling threatened. Best appreciate from a distance!

 

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Scientific name: Macropus giganteus

Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Eastern Grey Kangaroo is the second largest kangaroo in the world, after the Red kangaroo. Kangaroos live in groups called mobs which usually consist of a few males and many females. Kangaroos have expanded in population with the European settlement of Australia, with farmers creating perfect conditions with regards to grazing land for the kangaroo. Eastern grey kangaroos produce one baby or joey at a time, and it spends 10-12months in the mothers pouch. Female eastern grey kangaroos can do something called embryonic diapause which is the ability to pause the development of an embryos growth in the uterus. This means when conditions become less favourable for producing young (e.g. like in the middle of drought), the embryo will stop developing and then start again when conditions become more favourable. Imagine being able to prevent being pregnant in the middle of summer!

 

Agile Wallaby

Scientific name: Macropus agilis

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Agile wallabies are the most common wallaby in tropical Queensland. They are usually found in coastal regions, but distribution will change depending on the season. During the dry season wallabies will station themselves near a source of permanent water, during the wet season wallabies will move from their preferred habitat of the floodplains and move into base of escarpments and hills. Agile wallabies will aggregate in large numbers in grassy plains to feed on the fresh grass, but will often gather in smaller numbers in denser vegetation. Mature males will often gain huge amounts of muscle on their upper arms and often look like body builders in appearance.

 

Red Legged Pademelon

Scientific name: Thylogale stigmatica

Conservation status: Least Concern

Red legged pademelons are small species of wallaby predominantly found in rainforest areas. They feed off fallen leaves and fruits from the trees in the forest, occasionally taking fresh leaves, grass, fungus and bark. They are reddish in colour on their back, with lighter colours on the chest. Males have a distinctive grey tinge to their coat on the back of their arms and shoulders and are often larger than the female. They are polygynous in their breeding behaviours, and as they are usually solitary, breeding time is one of the few times they can be seen together.

 

Swamp Wallaby

Scientific name: Wallabia bicolor

Conservation Status:

Like their name suggests, swamp wallabies can be found in swampy areas but they are also frequently found in forested and woodland areas. Swamp wallabies are solitary, and only come together for breeding, which they can do multiple times a year. This species is unique in regards to its breeding cycle. It is the only known marsupial to have an gestation period is longer than its oestrous cycle, meaning females can mate in its last few days of gestation, allowing continuous breeding all year.

 

Freshwater crocodile

Scientific name: Crocodylus johnsoni

Conservation status: Least Concern

Australia has two extant species of crocodiles, with the freshwater crocodile being the smaller, less aggressive of the two. They are found in freshwater creeks in the northern part of Australia. They feed predominantly on crustaceans, fish, invertebrates and the occasional small mammal. Freshwater crocodiles will lay between 4-20 eggs in a mound. Unlike saltwater crocodiles, freshwater crocodiles will not guard their nest but will return to excavate them after their incubation period of 2-3months.

Saltwater crocodile

Scientific name: Crocodylus porosus
Conservation status: Least concern

Saltwater crocodiles, also known as the estuarine crocodile is the largest species of crocodilian. They can grow in excess of 7m in length. Despite their name crocodiles do not live in the ocean, but rather in estuaries and brackish water where there is a lower salt content in the water. Saltwater crocodiles have more evolved salt excretion glands on their tongues than other crocodilian species, so can tolerate longer times in the ocean, but cant live there permanently. “salties” as they are referred to Australia are highly aggressive and very dangerous creatures, they can bring an animal as large as a buffalo down. Extreme caution should be taken when exploring in their habitat.

 

Eastern Blue Tongue Lizard

Scientific name: Tiliqua scincoides

Conservation status:

The largest member of the skink family, this lizard is famous for its blue coloured tongue. Blue tongue lizards use their tongue as a defence against predators – to either scare them off or trick them into thinking they are not good for eating. If this doesn’t do the trick and a predator has hold of their tail, they can drop their tails, and grow them back over a period time. Unlike most reptiles, blue tongue lizards do not lay eggs and incubate them,  they are oviviparous, which means they form eggs internally, which hatch inside the female and then give birth to live young!

 

Merten’s Water Monitor

Scientific name: Varanus mertensi

Conservation status: Least concern

Merten’s water monitor is found in coastal and inland waters across much of northern Australia. They are strong swimmers and are seldom found too far from a source of water. They feed both on land and in the water and can take fishfrogs, and carrion, also taking terrestrial vertebrates and insects when available. It has a good sense of smell and may dig up prey when foraging, including the eggs of freshwater turtles.

 

Eastern Water Dragon

Scientific name: Intellagama lesueurii

Conservation status: Least Concern

This species of dragon spends a lot of time around water and can hold its breath for over 30min underwater. They mostly consume invertebrates as juveniles but as adults they consume a lot plant material, with almost half their diet consisting of this. Males protect a harem of females and will fend off intruders by displaying a number of head bobs and arm waves while standing on his back two legs.

 

Lace monitor

Scientific name: Varanus varius

Conservation status: Least Concern

All monitor lizards are powerfully built, with strong limbs and long, sharp curved claws. Monitors are the only lizards that have a deeply forked tongue like that of a snake. There is a Jacobson’s organ on the roof of the mouth, also like that of snakes. The tongue constantly flicks in and out, transferring information to the Jacobson’s organ. This sensitive chemoreceptor can detect minute traces of odours in the air, whether from a prey item, a predator, or a potential mate.

 

Yellow spotted monitor

Scientific name: Varanus panoptes

Conservation status: Least Concern

They are primarily terrestrial, meaning they spend a great deal of time on the ground. This species is an avid digger and will dig large burrows or take over an already existing burrow, where they spend a sizable portion of their time. Despite this, they will eagerly forage in trees and in the water. These large lizards are quite fast and will run up to 100 yards/meters to the nearest tree or burrow when they are chased.

 

Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo

Scientific name: Dendrolagus lumholtzi

Conservation status: Near Threatened

There are two species of tree kangaroo found in Australia, both found here in far north Queensland. The Lumholtz tree kangaroo is found south of Daintree River and the Bennett’s tree kangaroo is found north of the Daintree River. Tree Kangaroos, live mostly up in the tree but still have the ability to hop on their hind feet like their ground dwelling cousins. They have evolved to life in the trees and have modified limbs to allow this – with much more muscular forelimbs and shorter, fatter hind feet for grip. They predominantly feed on the leaves and occasionally the fruits of trees and vines. The yare ‘cathemeral’ which means they are active when ever they want to be – there is not set common time to see them up and about.

 

Koala

Scientific name: Phascolarctos cinereus

Conservation status: Vulnerable

The koala would have to be the most famous marsupial. It is a tree dwelling animal that often gets referred to as the “koala bear”. However, it is not related to bears at all, its closest living relative is the wombat. Koalas are very specialised feeders, only eating around 70 species of the over 800 species of eucalyptus in Australia. They prefer the fresh growth found at the top of the tree. Due to this low energy diet and the toxins in the plant the koala spends 18-20hours sleeping per day. Koalas are solitary and only come together for breeding. After a successful breeding, they are only pregnant for 35 days and give birth to a jelly bean sized baby. It spends 8-9 months in its mother’s pouch developing. Becoming fully emerged around 10months and independent from mum around 12months.

 

Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat

Scientific name: Lasiorhinus latifrons

Conservation status: Near Threatened

There are three extant species of wombats. All wombats live in burrows underground. They are a marsupial, just like their closest relative, the Koala. Unlike other marsupials the pouch of the wombat faces backwards (towards their cloaca). This is to ensure when the mother is digging she does not get dirt in the pouch. Natural predators of the wombat include dingoes

 

Water python

Scientific name: Liasis fuscus

Conservation status: Least Concern

The water python is a non-venomous species of snake found around waterways, creeks, lagoons and rivers. They are known for having the ability to eat small crocodiles. The Aborigines tell the tale of the rainbow serpent or the water python. It is said that the rivers and waterways of northern Australia were created and brought to life by the snake’s vibrant and iridescent skin!

 

Jungle Python

Scientific name: Morelia spilota cheynei

Conservation status: Least Concern

A subspecies of carpet python found in the rainforest of Queensland. It can come in different colours, with the most vibrant featuring bright yellow and black, often referred to as “jag”.

 

Green Tree Python

Scientific name: Morelia viridis

Conservation status: Least Concern

Found in Papua New Guinea and northern most reaches of Queensland, this species is found predominately in rainforest habitats. Like most pythons, they use heat sensing pits in their lower jaw to help them detect where their prey is located. This species is very popular in the pet trade and as result has suffered from illegal collection from the wild.

 

 

Bredli Carpet Python

Scientific name: Morelia bredli

Conservation status: Least Concern

Bredli or Centralian carpet python is found in very hot areas of central Australia. Like other pythons they have heat sensing pit located on their lower jaw to find prey, however due to the higher temperatures in their habitat, they also have heat sensing pits on their upper jaw.

 

Carpet Python

Scientific name: Morelia spilota

Conservation status: Least Concern

Carpet pythons can be found all over Australia, except in Tasmania. They can grow up to 4m in length and use contracting as a method to kill their prey. Carpet pythons use their incredible muscles along their body to squeeze their prey, suffocating it to death and then eat the animal whole. There are many subspecies of carpet python found in varying habitats.

 

Ring tailed gecko

Scientific name: Cyrtodactylus tuberculatus

Conservation status: Least Concern

Australian ring-tailed geckos are have a very fragmented distribution along northern Queensland, with their presence highly linked to rocky habitats. They are amongst Australia’s largest gecko species. They predominantly eat insects, and are active at night.

 

Eastern Bearded dragon

Scientific name: Pogona barbata

Conservation status: Least Concern

Belonging to the agamid family, bearded dragons, like all agamids have spiny horns on their head. There are 8 species of bearded dragon, all living in woodland areas where they eat insects. They are territorial and when feel threatened will inflate their beards (attached to their jaw) to make themselves look threatening.

 

Major Skink

Scientific name: Bellatorias frerei

Conservation status: Least Concern

Belonging to the family Scincidae, which has over 1500 described species distributed over Australia and is the most diverse group of lizards.  They omnivorous, eating both plants matter, invertebrates and small mammals.

 

Land Mullet

Scientific name: Bellatorias major

Conservation status: Least Concern

The Land Mullet is one of the largest species of skink. They are very shy lizards, often taking refuge under fallen branches and leaves when they hear noise. The land mullet eats woody fungi, mushrooms, berries, seeds, insects such as beetles and grasshoppers as well as decaying fruit material

 

Black Headed python

Scientific name: Aspidites melenocephalus

Conservation status: Least Concern

Named after its striking black head, this python lacks the heat sensing pits that its other python cousins have. As a result they prey upon other cold blooded animals like lizards and even venomous snakes. They are impervious to the venom of venomous snakes. They are nocturnal, but can be found resting during the day, often with their body sheltered and their head sticking up exposed the sun. Their black head acts as a solar panel to heat its entire body without exposing itself to predators.