Introduced Animal Species in Australia Invasive, Feral, Beneficial & Benign Animals

Dingo

Dingoes are medium-sized wild dogs. They brought to Australia by ancient seafarers that reverted to a wild state. There is some controversy as to whether they are now native or introduced animals.

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Rabbit

Feral Rabbit

Twenty rabbits were imported into Australia 1859. Now there are over 200 million wild rabbits. They are the most destructive of introduced animal in Australia, causing the extinction of native fauna and flora.

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Camel

Australian wild camels are referred to as feral camels. These Dromedary and Bactrian camels were initially imported for use in transport in the Australian outback. Later released, they have become wild animals.

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Cane Toad

The cane toad, the world's largest toad, was brought to Australia in 1935 to control native beetles that were attacking sugarcane crops. It didn't do its job. Instead, it eats and poisons native insects and animals.

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Cat (Feral)

Feral cats are wild cats that evolved from domestic cats that escaped from their human environment. There were no cats in Australia before European settlement in 1788. They kill millions of native animals.

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Red Fox

The European red fox was imported and released in Victoria, Australia in the 1850s. Today it is found in over 75% of Australia, and number over 7.5 million. It killing native Australian animals at an alarming rate.

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Brumby (Feral Horse)

Brumbies are wild horses, descendants of domestic animals that escaped from early European settlers. Australian native vegetation suffers significant damage when trampled by hoofed animals such as horses.

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European Honey Bee

The European honey bee was introduced into Australia in 1822 to supply them with honey. It is vital to the Australian agricultural sector today. Bee stings cause the highest number of human deaths each year.

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Myna Bird

Introduced in 1863 to control insects in market gardens, these birds are fast becoming Australia's number one pest. The Indian Myna aggressively competes with native birds for food, nesting, and territory.

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Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch Butterfly, also known as the Wanderer Butterfly in Australia, was unintentionally brought here by American gold miners around 1871. They appeared in Australia after the arrival of the Milk Weed plant.

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Dung Beetle

Dung Beetles were imported in 1967-89 and 1990-1992 to collect bury the dung of farm animals, which helps recycle nutrients, aerate the soil, and reduce flies. They have been happily eating millions of cow-pats each day.

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Buffalo

Water buffaloes were introduced in 1825 to supply meat for settlers. They can grow up to 2m in height, 3m in length, and weigh up to 1,200 kgs. They cause considerable damage to Australian fauna and flora.

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House Mouse

The house mouse is one of the few animals that wasn't brought to Australia intentionally. It hitched a ride as early as 1770 during the visit by James Cook. But most likely came with the first fleet in 1788.

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Red Fire Ant

Red imported fire ants arrived in from the USA in 2001. It is a serious pest that can inflict painful bites on people, pets, and livestock. It has a voracious appetite, reducing plant populations and competing with native wildlife.

 

Spotted Dove

The Spotted Dove is a long-tailed pigeon native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It was introduced in about 1860 and often displaces native doves. The species has not spread far from urban areas.

 

Goat

Goats were imported in the 18th century and escaped into the wild. They now cause significant damage to the environment by overgrazing. This leads to land degradation, depriving other animals of food.

 

House Sparrow

Common house sparrows are large finches introduced to Australia in 1863. They quickly established themselves in urban areas in eastern Australia. They are considered pests, and eradication efforts to date have failed.

 

Duck (Mallard)

Mallards were released in Australia in 1862. They are often the dominant waterfowl where they interbreed with native species.

 

Feral Pig

Feral Pigs are the descendants of pigs brought to Australia by European settlers. Many were allowed to roam and soon became wild.

 

Flea

The European and Spanish Rabbit Fleas was specially imported to use as a carrier of the myxomatosis virus used to kill feral wild rabbits.

 

House Gecko

Introduced from Asia, it was first noticed in the 1960s, the house gecko is now found throughout northern Australia.

 

Rat

Black and brown rats arrived on board the first European ships to come to Australia. These pests carry diseases, eat crops and damage infrastructure

 

European Wasp

The European wasp arrived in Australia in 1959 and now found in southern Australia. It is aggressive and will sting its victim repeatedly.

 

Rainbow Trout

Introduced in 1894 from California, it has been very successful . It has caused the extinction of many native fish and invertebrates.

 

Banteng

The Banteng was introduced by the British army in 1849 at a remote outpost in Northern Australia which was later abandoned.

 

Farm Animals

Introduced farm animals such as sheep and cattle are vital to the Australian livestock industry. They contribute significantly to the economy.

 

Animals Brought by Humans to Australia Introduction of Non-native Animals to Australia

There Were No
Mice, Apes & Monkeys
in Australia

Photo: House mouse

Until Europeans came to Australia in 1788, there were no hoofed animals (like horses, cattle, goats, deer, etc.) in Australia. There were no apes or monkeys in Australia either.

Rats and mice were the only animals that the Europeans didn't bring intentionally. They arrived as stowaways on ships.

Numerous animals were brought to Australia by humans. Some, such as the sheep and cattle, have been vital to the Australian economy. Others, such as the rabbit and fox, have had serious impact on the Australian environment, native animals and plants.

Introduced animals are those animals that were not native to the Australian continent before the arrival of humans. Many animals were brought (introduced) into Australia by humans. The first to arrive was the dingo about 5,000 years ago. Subsequently, a large number of non-native animal species were imported by European settlers. Many of these introduced animals have become invasive pests. They are destroying native Australian native flora and fauna.

This has led to the demonisation of these hapless creatures as somehow evil. Some attempts to eradicate them have been very cruel and inhuman.


The Australian Ecosystem Isolated and Protected for Millions of Years

Believe It or Not

Humans have been the most destructive animals ever introduced to Australia.

Australia has been isolated and insulated from the rest of the world for millions of years. In its isolation, many plants and animals evolved, specialised and adapted to Australia’s unique environment. Up until the arrival of Europeans settlers starting in 1788, only one non-indigenous animal was introduced to Australia. This was the dingo which arrived about 4,000 years ago. Since 1788 however more than 25 mammals, 20 birds, 4 reptiles, 1 frog, 34 fish, hundreds of marine species, an unknown number of invertebrates and more than 2,800 weeds have been introduced to Australia.

The introduction of foreign plants and animals have sometimes had unforeseen impacts on native flora and fauna. These impacts have ranged from negligible to catastrophic. Many of these introduced species damage and degrade the ecosystem, bring new diseases, prey on native species, and compete with native plants and animals for food and shelter.

Australian Native Animals


Be Gentle with Us We Never Asked to Come Here

Photo: Fox pups (also called kits or cubs)

It is important to remember that these introduced animals never attempted to come to Australia on their own. We, humans, brought them to Australia without due consideration for the impacts of our actions. These animals are only following their natural instincts to survive in their new environment. Yes, some have killed native plants and animals. Yes, they out-compete the natives. But we brought them here and failed to manage them from the very outset.

Some ludicrous unsubstantiated claims have also been made. For example, it is claimed that feral cats kill 20 billion Australian native species each a year! This is surely scaremongering. Sure, there is an issue with introduced species, but very little unbiased scientific research has been carried out to determine the true magnitude and impact of introduced animals on the Australian ecosystem.


Impact of Animals Introduced to Australia Not All Introduced Animals have been Bad

The impacts of the various introduced animals on the Australian ecosystem have been broadly classified below. Sometimes an animal can be in more than one group. For example, the rabbit is classified as both feral and a pest.

Beneficial - These species have been useful to humans or the environment.
Benign - These creatures have had no noticeable adverse impact on the Australian ecosystem.
Invasive - species have a tendency to spread their range into new areas.
Feral - Domestic animals brought to Australia that have gone wild and significantly impact the ecosystem.
Pests - These animals have a direct negative effect on the Australian ecosystem and are difficult to control.